Here's an example: Big Ten Quarterfinal #1 starts at 12pm ET with a two hour window on ESPN. In the past, ESPN would provide guide data showing Quarterfinal #2 would start at 2pm and end at 4:30pm, but we know that's not really the start time because there's time between games allowing the schools in the 2nd game a warmup period, usually between 20-30 minutes. Now ESPN is scheduling 30 minutes of fill time, often College Basketball Live, or flat out scheduling the first game's window at two hours & 30 minutes, with the 2nd game in the example above now starting in guide data at 2:30pm ET.
Is this game changing? Not really, because games still run over their allotted time slots all the time, whether its overtime or a game with a lot of stoppages. But this does put ESPN in line with other TV networks like CBS Sports Network, FS1 and NBCSN, who usually schedule telecast windows of two hours & 30 minutes on the first game of back-to-backs when they're at the same site.
Take a look at Week 18 of the 2016-17 season, where most of the conference championship tournaments are occurring, for examples.
Note that this does not affect situations where ESPN could be switching sites. For example, two conference tournament championships could be scheduled back to back because they don't require fill time in between.
* Heading back to One World Sports (if you don't know what's going on, read up on it here), I was able to confirm from the Ivy League that they have pulled back all of their athletic contests from the network due to uncertainty around its future.
In speaking with the conference, one game (Penn vs. Princeton on 1/7/17) has moved to CSN Philadelphia, while other games will air on ESPN3, though it won't necessarily be a one-for-one swap (ie. games that weren't scheduled for OWS may air on ESPN3 instead of some that were to be on OWS).
The most recent release of Ivy League weekly notes for men's basketball show all former OWS games with the ILDN (Ivy League Digital Network) designation only on page 11, though the individual team schedules on preceding pages continue to list OWS.
* WatchESPN updated their listings for March and a notable item, for now, is that there isn't yet a place for the CAA men's basketball championship (take a look here). ESPNU now shows both Horizon League semifinal games on 3/6/17, where previously the semifinals were to be split between ESPNEWS and ESPNU.
The CAA maintained they would have a national platform, and the game could end up on ESPNEWS or ESPNU with some shuffling. ESPN is currently scheduled to air the SoCon men's basketball championship & ESPN2 would have the American's women's championship, aka UConn vs. somebody (hey, let's be realistic here).
So if ESPN isn't the outlet, and it may still be because they could be finalizing contractual parameters & ESPN doesn't want to publicly list the game, who could it be, or better yet, what are others carrying that evening:
- NBCSN: NHL (Dallas vs. Washington, 7:30pm ET)
- FS1: Big East women's basketball semifinals (4pm & 6:30pm ET) & Big 12 WBK final (9pm)
- CBSSN: ??? (no college basketball, but could have other programming)
- ASN: ??? (might need streaming help to clear nationally)
CBSSN could be a place for it, along with CAA basketball in future years. FS2 has aired one of the Big East women's semifinals in the past, but the 2nd semifinal was scheduled at a time when it conflicted with FS1 carrying the Big 12 women's championship game.
Other platforms like Campus Insiders or ESPN3 could clear the game nationally too. Regional TV partner Comcast SportsNet could clear it on their Philadelphia & Mid Atlantic channels, but would be using alternate channel locations as both primary stations have pro sports (CSNMA has the Capitals game mentioned above & CSNP has a Sixers game).