Saturday, August 11, 2018

College Sports Scheduling Odds & Ends for Fall 2018

I haven't written anything of note in a month.  Consider this a collection of tweeted items you may have missed.

* ESPN announced several early season event schedules in men's basketball.  Where this does have some effect on the college football schedule are the following dates is on the day after Thanksgiving.

The mothership has Oklahoma at West Virginia at 8pm, but has men's basketball from 11:30am - 4pm.  That leaves open the for the possibility of a college football game at 4 or 4:30pm ET.

Men's basketball is scheduled from 11:30am - 6:30pm.  There's also a game at 11:30pm ET.  It does leave open for the possibility of a football game here, but the NIT Tip-Off has not been placed into the TV schedule and both games could fit inside the open five hours here.

Playing one NIT game on ESPN then the other on ESPN2 would could leave the college football window short of 30 minutes (not unheard of with ESPN), but in my opinion, the opening here is wide enough for the NIT games.

Basketball games are scheduled from 4:30pm - 9:30pm, though the 7pm game may move to ESPN3.  Maybe one NIT game slots in here, the other slots in on ESPN2 and ESPN looks for other available men's basketball games to show.  With that said, a MAC game should be played in the early afternoon, maybe around 1pm ET or earlier.

Here's the basketball schedule for the week I'm talking about.  Head to Friday for information.

* Don't expect "Pac-12 After Dark" on the main ESPN channel on back-to-back weeks in mid-October.  ESPN MediaZone listings have a Top Rank Boxing event scheduled for 10/13 and 10/20 had a NBA Special Event, which turns out Rockets vs. Lakers as part of the opening week of the NBA schedule.

Plans by ESPN to televise something else on Saturday night must have been in the works for months.  On 10/13, they have Arizona at Utah on Friday and the following Thursday they have Stanford at Arizona St.  10/13 also has only three Pac-12 games available for Saturday.  10/20 might have a Pac-12 game on ABC or in the afternoon on ESPN since FOX may have limitations due to the potential for NLCS Game Seven in primetime on either FOX or FS1, plus a commitment to air Michigan at Michigan St. earlier in the day.

* Speaking of the MLB postseason, the schedule has come out.  Here's the effects on FOX.

  • 10/6 - No NLDS games for FS1 to show, but they have prelims for the UFC pay-per-view event that evening.  Those could get bumped to F/X, but it would allow for FS1 to show a Pac-12 game later in the evening after the prelims.  FOX has rights to Texas vs. Oklahoma this year, so look for it to have some heavy promotion somewhere.  Part of me wonders if a 3pm start leading into the UFC prelims on FS1 is the plan, or to use it to lead into a Big Ten game to get to the UFC festivities.
  • 10/13 - NLCS Game 2 is scheduled and I believe it would air in the afternoon with ALCS Game 1 in the evening.  An advance listing provided to affiliates did not have any college football on FOX broadcast network on this date, so the MLB game could be airing there after the NASCAR Truck Series race.  In a similar spot last year, FOX had NASCAR Trucks, ALCS Game 2 and Premier Boxing on 10/14/17, leaving FS1 to carry four college football games.
  • 10/20 - Potential for NLCS Game 7 leads me to think FOX would try to use a six day pick for the majority of the college football schedule, regardless of the results of the first two NLCS games.  Yankees-Astros Game 7 last year was far from a sure thing when Houston won the first two games, but FOX played for the possibility of the finale & scheduled Kansas at TCU game as their primetime game. 

    FOX has Michigan at Michigan St. and since it can't be moved to a night game on short notice due to Big Ten rules, FOX would either have to be willing for the possibility of the two games at night, or play the Big Ten game in the afternoon.  I'm betting on the Big Ten game in the afternoon, but the available teams for the NLCS could drive FOX's decision and they'll have an idea by the time 10/20 selections have to be made on 10/8 as both NLDS series will have played three games.  Some combo of the Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals and Phillies (probably the first two teams alone, I tossed in the NL East teams due to market & star power) probably helps FOX clear the decks in the evening.  Any involvement with Arizona, Milwaukee & Atlanta gives them pause. 
  • 10/27 - World Series is on FOX in the evening. They have two CFB windows tentatively scheduled earlier in the day.

* When I saw the split of ESPN3 vs. ESPN+ events for the Southland, Missouri Valley Football and SoCon, I really wasn't sure what to make of it.  The Valley lists some of their Game of the Week streams as airing on ESPN+ where some are on ESPN3, while the SoCon has a consistent game each week on ESPN3.  I don't know if some schools want their productions on ESPN3 instead of ESPN+.  Having North Dakota St. behind that paywall for every game looks to be a planned event.

* FloSports announced that Eleven Sports will be providing them with a programming feed that would include New Mexico St. football and other collegiate events.  A source said that Learfield Sports is the one brokering the deal on behalf of the school, which would make some sense.  When I asked the school about this deal, they said they had not signed a deal with them.  Plausible deniability, but also, Learfield manages this on behalf of New Mexico St.  Learfield's doing the work, not the school.

With that said, along with another conversation I had regarding football games being scheduled for Eleven Sports, it sounds like some of these games will air on Eleven Sports Next, the network's Twitch portal.

* A new addition to Stadium's college football schedule is that each game will air on Stadium's College Football page on Facebook.  This page previously only aired Facebook exclusive games.

* Heading back to college basketball, FOX confirmed that a pair of November men's basketball events from Las Vegas would be in the mix around their college football games.

Thanksgiving on FS1
The Las Vegas Holiday Invitational from 1:30pm - 6pm, followed by the Las Vegas Invitational starting at 7:30pm ET

Black Friday on FOX
The finals of the Las Vegas Invitational (Texas, UCLA, UNC & Michigan St.) will air at 4pm ET, in between Nebraska at Iowa (12pm) & the Apple Cup (8:30pm)

Black Friday on FS1
The finals of the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational will start at 10pm ET, after Texas at Kansas (12pm) and the Civil War (4pm).  Maybe a Big East game gets tossed in there to bridge to the Las Vegas games, or another event.

FOX Sports also picked up the Fort Myers Tip Off (Boston College, Wyoming, Richmond & Loyola Chicago) on November 19 & 21.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Remaining Early Season Start Times & MW Regional TV Guesses

Mountain West

* The regional TV schedule for the Mountain West does have to work around the schedules of the Colorado Rockies, Utah Jazz and Vegas Golden Knights which are carried on AT&T SportsNet in large areas of the RSN's territory.  The Jazz are also carried in some areas on ROOT Sports, which is why a portion of the Big Sky's TV schedule on that RSN has a few TBA start times.

Anyways, here's a guess on the remaining games from the Mountain West, placing them with particular TV or digital platforms:

AT&T SportsNet
9/1: Stony Brook at Air Force
9/8: New Mexico St. at Utah St.
9/29: Liberty at New Mexico
10/13: UNLV at Utah St.
10/13: New Mexico at Colorado St.
10/20: Utah St. at Wyoming
10/27: UNLV at San Jose St.
11/10: San Jose St. at Utah St.
11/17: Nevada at San Jose St.
11/24: Wyoming at New Mexico

A few notes on these:
  • Taking the Air Force game with the Rockies in the evening feels like a no-brainer with all other Air Force games selected by other MW TV partners
  • I looked at New Mexico St. at Utah St. as a good regional selection.
  • For October & November, I tried to balance the selections of UNLV and Nevada games based on if or when the Golden Knights were playing.  
  • There are occasions where ROOT only carried the Big Sky game & ATTSN only carried the MW game live, so this doesn't mean the two conferences would be aired as consecutive games.
Stadium Production on Facebook or ESPN Digital
9/1: Idaho at Fresno St.
9/8: Sacramento St. at San Diego St.
9/8: UTEP at UNLV
9/13: Tennessee Tech at Utah St.
10/6: New Mexico at UNLV
10/27: New Mexico at Colorado St.
11/3: San Jose St. at Wyoming
11/17: Utah St. at Colorado St.

ESPN and CBS Sports Network are each allowed up to two additional selections after AT&T Sports Network and Stadium make their selections.  One of those intraconference games could be an ESPN3 game.

School Produced Mountain West Network or No Streaming
8/30: UC Davis at San Jose St.
8/31: Portland St. at Nevada
9/1: Incarnate Word at New Mexico
9/15: Prairie View at UNLV
9/15: Wofford at Wyoming
9/22: Illinois St. at Colorado St.

Spectrum PPV for Hawai'i & Stadium app on the mainland
9/8: Rice at Hawai'i
9/22: Duquesne at Hawai'i
9/29: Hawai'i at San Jose St.
10/6: Wyoming at Hawai'i
10/20: Nevada at Hawai'i
11/3: Utah St. at Hawai'i
11/17: UNLV at Hawai'i

Conference USA

There are six regular season C-USA games, all involving FAU and UAB as the home teams, that are awaiting final start times.  Five of them are scheduled to air on Stadium or Stadium on Facebook with the sixth on ESPN3.  I suspect that FAU is working with Stadium on the games for their TV feed to figure out the best start time with respect to hot weather and UAB may be doing the same, though since both UAB games are on digital outlets, they have a bit more control on the start times.  All might be set by the time C-USA Media Days start up in a week.

The conference championship game's start time is also TBA.  If CBSSN carries the final day of the Belfast Classic, the football game wouldn't start any earlier than 1pm ET based on the tip times in Belfast.

Liberty, New Mexico St. and Massachusetts

Liberty & New Mexico St. set the start times for their home games already and both schools have produced telecasts before, so its likely that they'll continue down this route and figure out a way to distribute those games out of market digitally.  As for UMass, they are staying with Eleven Sports for national coverage, so they may be working with the network alongside other FCS game coverage to figure out the appropriate start times.

I put forth the possibility of both Liberty and New Mexico St. maybe looking at Eleven Sports with both schools producing the coverage for the national network, mostly because the Big Sky schedule had few start times announced (they could also be working with other FCS conferences like the Southland).

Liberty would be less likely because of their A-Sun sports coverage being part of ESPN Digital.  New Mexico St. I could see looking at it since they have the UMass model to follow, which still allowed for regional TV coverage (UMass used NESN) and free streaming through the UMass athletics website.  Whether they look at that or if Eleven is even interested, I can't say.  Would it be a step up from AggieVision w/FSAZ & Altitude regionally & ESPN3 and FOX College Sports nationally?  Possibly.

Monday, July 2, 2018

College Basketball Scheduling Notes for 2018: December

This one is a continuation of an early look at college basketball on TV for the upcoming season.  Here's a look at November if you haven't read it yet.

Many of these game dates came from The D1 Docket, Chris Dobbertean of Blogging The Bracket & Jon Rothstein


Championship Saturday falls on the first Saturday of December and bowl season starts on the third one, so there's plenty of possibilities for college basketball to be mixed in either before football games or in between.  As for Sundays, with both CBS and FOX on NFL duties, the cable networks are the winners

December 1st & 2nd
  • FOX only has the Big Ten Championship on Saturday.  The conference is expected to schedule their first round of conference play during this weekend, so look for a repeat of last year where CBS carried Indiana at Michigan to lead into SEC Championship coverage and FOX carried Ohio St. at Wisconsin before their Big Ten football coverage.  Maybe not those same exact games though.
  • FOX might also end up with a Big East game on the broadcast network leading into the Big Ten game.  Gonzaga at Creighton, Louisville at Seton Hall and Kansas St. at Marquette are possibilities
  • Look for Stanford at Kansas to show up on ESPN in the middle of the day on Saturday.  Another that should end up on ESPN2 would be Villanova at La Salle.  The HoopHall Miami event also has four games available to be taken across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.  
  • Nevada at USC could end up on ESPN linear TV or FS1.  FOX isn't known for taking many Pac-12 non conference games.
  • CBS Sports Network should have options for Saturday, including Cincinnati at UNLV, possibly a Big East game that FOX elects to sublicense to them, Butler at Saint Louis, Wake Forest at Richmond and/or maybe Oregon at Houston.
  • Sunday is light, but Arizona at Connecticut looks like a midday game for ESPN to pick up.  UCF at Missouri could be on ESPN, but is likely targeted for the SEC Network.  Louisville at Seton Hall could end up being a Sunday game, which would firmly put it on FS1 as I don't see that one moving to CBS Sports Network via sublicense.
December 7th & 8th
  • CBS usually airs one game in the afternoon before the Army-Navy football game.  As a primary rightsholder to American, Big Ten and SEC, they have three great options: Xavier at Cincinnati, Louisville at Indiana & Michigan St. at Florida.
  • ESPN should be carrying at least one FCS Playoff game on Saturday, but after that they have options.  Georgetown at Syracuse is exclusive to them unless they were to sublicense it to CBS.  Two of the games listed above for CBS could end up on their air.  Besides that, they have a Duke game vs. Yale (ESPN doesn't miss a chance to show Duke), the Never Forget Tribute Classic doubleheader (Clemson vs. Mississippi St. & Florida St. vs. UConn), South Carolina at Michigan and 3-4 Big 12 games.  Notre Dame at UCLA is also available in the evening.
  • If FOX can get their hands on Louisville at Indiana, I imagine they'll take it.  Same with Notre Dame at UCLA.  They also have St. Joe's vs. Villanova and Wisconsin at Marquette from the Big East, which would work out well for FS1.
  • Kansas St. at Tulsa might be one that CBS Sports Network can get their hands on for Saturday. 
  • I'm not sure if ESPN would have rights to the Never Forget Tribute Games, and two other neutral site games on Saturday I'm unclear on the TV rights for: Kentucky vs. Seton Hall at MSG & Utah vs. BYU at Vivint Smart Home Arena.  If the former is a Big East game, its definitely on FOX as I don't see it being sublicensed.  As for the Beehive State game, ESPN has rights available to it if its classified as a WCC contest, but if its a Pac-12 game, ESPN might pick it up in the evening.
  • Sunday is set up well for ESPN.  Assuming they have the Jerry Colangelo Classic, they'll have a nice doubleheader of Gonzaga vs. Tennessee & Nevada vs. Grand Canyon.  Purdue at Texas is also available to them.
December 15th & 16th
  • ESPN becomes a bit limited due to bowl games on the mothership but ESPN2 and ESPNU should have space outside of 1-2 FCS semifinal games.  One game is likely to go to ESPN before their bowl game coverage.  My bet would be Villanova at Kansas over Gonzaga at North Carolina.  ESPN also could end up with the MGM Resorts Showcase (BYU vs. UNLV & LSU vs. St. Mary's), part or all of the Hall of Fame Boardwalk Classic (4 game bill in Atlantic City) & Crossroads Classic, and Tennessee at Memphis
  • CBS would be a nice place for Gonzaga at North Carolina to land. If not, maybe Utah at Kentucky.
  • CBSSN should have the Cure Bowl in the early afternoon, so they could look to carry games before and after, like if they could get their hands on the MGM Resorts Showcase.
  • FOX had the Crossroads Classic event last year.  Beyond that, not many choices.  SMU at Georgetown would probably be on FS1.
  • Sunday is quite empty.  FS1 might have the Rutgers at Seton Hall game & ESPN could have the Hall of Fame Holiday Classic.
December 22nd & 23rd
  • ESPN will have the Diamond Head Classic across its networks in the late afternoon & evening.  They'll also have bowl games on the 22nd on the mothership.  Besides those games, I would look for them to carry games like Georgia at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest at Tennessee & Kansas at Arizona St.  Maybe Seton Hall at Maryland too, though that one may be for BTN or FS1.  EDIT: Villanova vs. UConn should also be available to them
  • CBS moved the CBS Sports Classic to Las Vegas, which leads me to believe they'll have a game before it.  My pick for that is Villanova vs. UConn from MSG.  EDIT: CBS Sports Classic is in Chicago in 2018.  2019 is in Las Vegas.
  • FS1 should have the Las Vegas Classic in the evening on both Saturday and Sunday.  If FS1 can swing it, they might also carry the Orange Bowl Classic games in the afternoon.  As for the broadcast network, they might not carry any college basketball that day.  
  • I assume CBS Sports Network would look to carry at least one of BYU at San Diego St. & Akron at Nevada.
December 29th & 30th
  • ESPN has one more full Saturday of bowl games, specifically the CFP Semifinals plus the Peach Bowl.  Its a really light day for college basketball and conference play for several conferences won't begin this particular weekend.  Nevada at Utah is a nice game and might be worth a selection by ESPN or FS1, but that's it.
  • The Jimmy V Classic is scheduled for Tuesday, December 4th.
  • The Hall of Fame Classic is on Friday, December 7th.  Last year's tripleheader was on split between Pac-12 Networks, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
  • Tuesday the 18th offers Creighton at Oklahoma & Xavier at Missouri.
  • Wednesday the 19th offers a couple intriguing non-conference games with UCLA visiting Cincinnati and Auburn headed to NC State.  California at Fresno St. might be on CBS Sports Network's radar.
  • The 21st has Providence at Texas and Oklahoma at Northwestern, plus the Braggin' Rights game between Missouri & Illinois from St. Louis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

College Basketball Scheduling Notes for 2018: November

There will be other games to be announced for November, along with matchups that have been announced without a date.  Also a chance that games scheduled for dates that I've cited below end up moving a day or two if it can be arranged between the schools and television.  So take this, and the upcoming one I'll do on December, with a grain of salt.  No different than anything else that gets written in this space.

Many of these game dates came from The D1 Docket, Chris Dobbertean of Blogging The BracketJon Rothstein

Opening Night

With the opening night scheduled for Tuesday 11/6 and the Champions Classic doubleheader on ESPN, what else is available for the networks to show?
  • North Carolina at Wofford is an intriguing non-conference game for the aspect of the higher profile of UNC starting out the season on the road at a SoCon school.  ESPN2 appears to be open.
  • Five Big East games are scheduled for the date so far.  I would assume two on FS1 & two on FS2.  I'm unsure if any would be on FSN since its a Tuesday date with NHL and NBA commitments, so maybe the fifth game ends up with CBS Sports Network.
  • BYU at Nevada would be a nice showcase game for the Wolf Pack, who appear to be a top 5-10 team coming into the season.  Maybe a potential doubleheader to lead off CBSSN's college basketball coverage.
  • It would be nice to see the 24 Hour Tip Off Marathon return since the season is starting on the same day of the Champions Classic.  Will it?  Don't know.  ESPN killed it off last year due to programming constraints.  To be fair, many of the games didn't draw a lot of viewers outside of the main event games in primetime.  The diehards were the viewers for the morning games involving smaller schools.
The Rest of Opening Week (Wednesday - Sunday)
  • Ohio St. at Cincinnati is a neat opener on Wednesday 11/7 for the renovated Fifth Third Arena.  The date is a bit unfortunate as both ESPN2 & ESPNU have MAC football game windows and ESPN presumably would have NBA coverage.  I think the MAC games will be structured in a way that the 8pm game is Toledo at Northern Illinois on whichever network it airs on, so the basketball game could precede it at 6pm.  Otherwise that one could air on CBS Sports Network or ESPNEWS, though I think ESPNEWS is less likely.
  • Arkansas vs. Texas, from Fort Bragg, and Yale vs. California, from Shanghai, would appear to be a doubleheader on ESPN or ESPN2 on Friday 11/9, depending on the NBA schedule.  A solid Big 12 doubleheader for ESPNU would be Buffalo at West Virginia followed by Missouri at Iowa St.
  • The placement of North Carolina at Elon on 11/9 is worth watching.  The CAA has a contract for their championship game with CBS Sports Network and one regular season game aired on the network last year (Notre Dame at Delaware).  This one would be a candidate for CBSSN if they can work it in besides the Veterans Classic doubleheader (Maryland vs. Navy & Providence vs. Wichita St.).  UNC at Elon could also be a game for CBS Digital's SportsLive platform if they don't find a linear TV network for it.  The CAA could also be working on TV distribution for their sports.
  • Army at Duke looks like a ESPNU game, possibly alongside Vanderbilt at USC, though the latter could be a Pac-12 Networks game instead.
The Rest of November
  • There's plenty of tournament events going on through the month, along with challenge series like the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and the Gavitt Games series between the Big East and Big Ten.  A couple new events have been added, like the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational which differs from the Las Vegas Invitational, and the Suncoast Classic.  It appears that the Las Vegas event belong to FOX Sports based on the logo created for it.  The Suncoast Classic might be one that the streaming services like FloSports, ESPN+ or CBS Digital looks to pick up.
  • FOX did carve out a window on Black Friday on the broadcast network in between college football games, supposedly to air the championship round of Las Vegas Invitational involving UCLA, Michigan St., North Carolina and Texas.
  • Speaking of games that are off the beaten path from non-Power Six conferences, here's some games from those conferences that could warrant linear TV coverage
    • Oklahoma at UTSA (11/12)
    • Georgia at Temple (11/13)
    • Texas A&M at Gonzaga (11/15)
      • With events from Charleston & Myrtle Beach on ESPN2 and ESPNU, this game could be later in the evening.
    • Houston at BYU (11/24)
      • Would likely be a game for BYUtv due to it being on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and ESPN likely being full with college football games.
    • Nevada at Loyola (Chicago) (11/27)
      • Might end up being on ESPNEWS, ESPN Digital or CBS Sports Network as ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU should be tied up with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
    • Alabama at UCF (11/30)
      • Would be for ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Digital or CBS Sports Network.  ESPN should have NBA coverage in addition to the MAC Football Championship on ESPN2.

Friday, June 1, 2018

2018 CFB Early Season Selections Notes

The early season and special date TV assignments have occurred for most college football games for 2018. 

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

These are the takeaways I had by network group, conference and/or school:


* TV assignments were left off Georgia Tech at USF and South Carolina St. at UCF on 9/8.  Coincidentally, Arizona at Houston doesn't have a reverse mirror partner at 12pm.  It would be a bit weird to have two games from the same conference in the reverse mirror.  I don't think it was a classic reverse mirror scenario, but on 9/22/07 Penn St. at Michigan aired on ABC in nearly all markets except those in Ohio and Chicago, IL where Northwestern at Ohio St. aired on ABC instead, with the game not airing on ABC airing on ESPN2.

I would assume Georgia Tech at USF is the one being looked at for a reverse mirror.  I don't know if there's an issue regarding the noon start in Tampa, or if the conference is requesting clarification as to the number of TV windows this counts for ABC if it is reverse mirrored instead of one game nationally on ABC.  This is one case where the conference's sprawl works against it because there is a natural east-west split with programming Arizona-Houston out west and Georgia Tech-USF in the east.

* I have 15 16 (addition of Georgia Tech at USF) game windows set aside for ABC & ESPN Networks with a minimum of 28 across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.  13 14 confirmed games and two windows on Black Friday.

* Speaking of Black Friday, CBS Sports Network's release has no game listed for their 3:30pm window that day.  ESPN's release, however, calls out UCF at USF and Houston at Memphis as being on their networks.  With ESPN being the conference's primary rightsholder, it would seem that East Carolina at Cincinnati belongs to CBS Sports Network.

Big 12

* Based on the games not listed in the Big 12's release, the member retained games are:
  • Abilene Christian at Baylor
  • South Dakota St. at Iowa St.
  • Nicholls at Kansas
  • South Dakota at Kansas St.
  • Army at Oklahoma
  • South Alabama at Oklahoma St.
  • Tulsa at Texas
  • Southern at TCU
  • Lamar at Texas Tech
  • Youngstown St. at West Virginia
All except the Army at Oklahoma game have been set for TV as that game is outside the first three weeks of the season.  There are situations where national broadcasters, specifically FOX Sports, can air the member retained game on FS1 or FOX as they aired Tulsa at Oklahoma St. last year on FS1.  That game was unique as it was the Cowboys only non-conference home game.

* Texas Tech was assigned as the home team for the Texas Kickoff game, so I've assigned the Big 12 as the TV rightsholder.  I think this game would count towards ESPN's 23 Big 12 games & will keep count of that through the season.

* After subtracting out the 23 games for ESPN and 10 member retained games, I have a count of 35 Big 12 games available to FOX Sports across their platforms.

* As previously mentioned, its a bit rare for two Big 12 games to air nationally on separate networks at the same time (Ohio St. vs. TCU & USC at Texas), but it isn't unheard of.

* My impression was that ESPN and FOX Sports were the only folks that would end up airing Friday night Big Ten games.  Will need to check as to whether the conference and/or Michigan St. had to approve the Utah St. game airing on BTN.

* After the opening weekend, FOX Sports took the remaining weeknight games.

* Using Rutgers at Ohio St. for an early way to clear OSU's BTN intraconference game commitment was a good idea.  If the Tulane game on 9/22 ends up being the Buckeyes 2nd BTN game, they wouldn't be required to appear on the network for the rest of the season.

* The FOX Sports release (linked in the FOX Sports area) touts 136 games across FOX, FSN, FS1 and BTN. After subtracting out bowl games, conference championships and other conferences, 71 regular season games are available to FOX, FS1 and BTN.  This lines up with the 99 Big Ten controlled games and subtracting off the conference championship game and 27 games for ABC & ESPN Networks.

* The network decision for California at BYU could dictate the remaining network choices for the three remaining October & November games.  If ESPNU is chosen, two of the remaining three games would have to air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.  If ESPN2 is chosen, one more game could be on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2.  Another could air on ESPNU and ESPN could end up taking the third or allowing BYUtv to produce it.

* Based on concurrent SEC games airing at 3:30pm from ESPN and CBS, along with confirmation from someone involved at one of the three entities, West Virginia vs. Tennessee and Georgia at South Carolina were sublicensed from ESPN.  I don't know what the selection process was for these games and if CBS chosen either of them before any ESPN selections.  I do know that these appearances, from a prior Twitter exchange with SEC media contact Chuck Dunlap, are not supposed to count as a CBS appearance for the SEC schools.

* I do not know why CBS has a game window on Black Friday and hasn't placed a game to the window.  Spoke with Dean from DawgPost last night and he pointed out an issue with moving one of the ACC rivalry games to Black Friday and that is if the ACC school agrees to moving their next game in the rivalry to Friday the next season, CBS doesn't have access to it.  Typically these games have been SEC intraconference games done on a two year basis so that each school hosts on a Friday.

EDIT: C-USA released their TV schedule on 6/7, after the original publication of this post.  This portion was updated after that schedule was released.

* CBS Sports Network clearly looks like they have the ability to get the best games if they want them.  They did get a nice pair of games on 9/22 involving ACC opponents, and two of their three Facebook produced games will be non-conference games.

* ESPN's digital schedule seems to follow a pattern similar to other conferences placing games on ESPN3 and ESPN+:
  • One ESPN3 game per week, a digital "game of the week"
  • The rest of the games behind the ESPN+ subscription service, almost as a replacement for the pay service that the conference previously ran, CUSA.TV.
* Most of the CBSSN, beIN Sports & Stadium linear TV schedules seem to have a pattern of trying not to overlap each other.  beIN Sports televises at 7:30pm ET on a consistent basis and Stadium tends not to be airing concurrent games, though the three FAU home games they selected are waiting for their start times to be finalized.  When adding in the CBSSN schedule, which has four weeknight games of the nine linear TV games, only three overlap scenarios exist at the moment:
  • 9/1: Indiana at FIU (7pm, CBSSN) & SMU at North Texas (7:30pm, Stadium)
  • 9/29: Marshall at Western Kentucky (7:30pm, Stadium) & Louisiana Tech at North Texas (7:30pm, beIN Sports)
  • 11/3: FAU at FIU (7:30pm, Stadium) & UTSA at UAB (7:30pm, beIN Sports)
* Somebody was going to be playing during increasing temperatures on 9/1.  Looks like Houston & Rice lost out.  Suppose its a bit interesting that the two Houston area schools are playing at the same time as two Power Five schools play at NRG Stadium.

* The Sun Belt, C-USA and MAC appear to be the early adopters for ESPN+ at the FBS level.  Looks like 1-2 games from each conference per week will air on ESPN3 with the remaining games on ESPN+.  Plenty of FCS games will be shifted there as the Ivy League has already moved their digital network over there.

* Similar to my comment on FOX providing some dogs for week one, the same holds true for Austin Peay at Georgia.  Here I understand because Georgia should be highly ranked and many folks will be watching Washington vs. Auburn instead.

* Selections remaining for specific conferences:
  • Big 12: 16
    • Excludes Big 12 Championship
  • Big Ten: 17
  • Pac-12: 14

* Missouri St. at Oklahoma St. is a curious, and underwhelming, choice to start the FS1 schedule.  There's no other way around that.  Same with the first FOX primetime game with Akron at Nebraska.  I suppose I can excuse the latter because it is going up against Michigan at Notre Dame & Louisville at Alabama.

* FOX didn't publish a list of open windows in their press release for the entire season.  Maybe that's coming later or maybe not and we'll learn of them a few weeks in advance.  They could be also trying to figure out their remaining UFC commitments for 2018 and their MLB postseason commitments, hoping to not tie themselves to a date or time for some of their TV windows.

* Speaking of those UFC commitments, when I look at the first three weeks, I didn't see a spot for pay-per-view prelims for a September event.  Per MMAFighting, its possible the UFC event will be on a Sunday, which would be the opening Sunday of the NFL season.

* It also appears that one of FS1's MLB windows is moving.  The 9/15 scheduled game of Twins at Royals is now being overlapped by Fresno St. at Minnesota.  Not a new thing though.  Last year, FS1 scheduled a window on 9/23 (occupied by Oklahoma at Baylor) that was originally scheduled to be a Twins at Tigers game.  The MLB game instead aired on Thursday from the same series.  FOX could do the same thing here, though they would have to move an ARCA race from FS1 to FS2.

* We know the sale of the FOX RSNs to Disney is in flight and that Comcast has supposedly made a competing offer.  Either way, FOX appears to be working under the assumption they'll be operating these networks through at least the fall.

* That large space between games on Black Friday on FOX I believe is to carry the 3rd place & championship games from the Las Vegas Invitational, involving Michigan St., UCLA, Texas and North Carolina.

* Selections remaining for specific conferences:
  • Big 12: 24
  • Big Ten: 13-16
    • Variable count
  • Pac-12: 13
Big 12 and Pac-12 counts exclude their respective conference championships.

* My overall accounting for FOX Sports using the number of 136 games they counted across FOX, FS1, FSN and BTN:

  • 2 bowl games
  • 2 conference championship games
  • 4 Big 12 member retained games on FSN
  • 22 Pac-12 games
  • 35 Big 12 games
  • 71 Big Ten games
    • 24-27 for FOX & FS1
    • 44-47 for BTN

Ivy League

* Each Ivy League school gets an appearance through the Friday night games on ESPNU.  TV network for Yale vs. Harvard should be decided through the 12 day selection process.  If only they had a network with business programming to show the game...

(CNBC aired the game the past few years if you didn't get the comment)


* CBS Sports Network has eight in-season selection windows.  Four consecutive Saturdays in late September & early October and one the last Saturday of October, two Thursdays and one on Black Friday.

* Games involving a pair of Power 5 opponents on 9/8 ended up on ESPN+ (Kansas at Central Michigan & Maryland at Bowling Green).  Not needle moving games, but the games on ESPN3 seem to not be the strongest offerings from the conference either.

Mountain West

* If Connecticut at Boise St. airs on ESPN2, that would lock in Boise St.'s requirement for three appearances on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.


* The flow of the doubleheader of Cincinnati at UCLA & BYU at Arizona is interesting.  Arizona QB Khalil Tate is in the top five in at least one betting market's odds for the 2018 Heisman.  On the other hand, this is Chip Kelly's first game at UCLA.  If Arizona's desire for night games in September didn't exist, I'd consider flipping these.

* As Dennis Dodd reported earlier, FOX Business Network will now be used for a Pac-12 overflow in case FS1 has other events.  First test might be Colorado at Arizona on 11/2 when a NASCAR truck series race airs prior to the game.

* You'll likely need online access to view New Hampshire at Oregon & Idaho St. at California on 9/15 unless you have the ability to view those specific regional feeds of Pac-12 Networks.  Conversely, you might have to subscribe to a higher tier if you live in Oregon & California to view those games on TV as Comcast has flipped the Pac-12 Networks main feed to more widely viewed tiers and the regionally focused tiers elsewhere.

* Utah does have a pair of 8pm MT / 10pm ET home starts where the preceding game probably won't be done by the time the Utah game window starts: 9/15 vs. Washington & 10/12 vs. Arizona.  This is why I'm led to believe that the conference has more of a hard rule or agreement with TV partners to not start TV windows after 8pm local time.


* The potential exists for three games vs. FCS opponents to air on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU over the first three weeks.  Not a fan of this, but people will watch their team.

* I can understand if ESPN wanted to keep Clemson at Texas A&M for themselves.  The storyline of Dabo vs. Jimbo & his new school is appealing.  CBS can't take Georgia every week and they've already locked them into one appearance vs. Florida.

Sun Belt

* Much like the MAC, the Sun Belt games on ESPN3 aren't necessarily the most competitive games.  ESPN+ will have several that will have more interest regionally.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Changes to College Sports Scheduling for ESPN & FS1 with Move of UFC?

Quickly tossing this one out as ESPN finalized a UFC TV contract, apparently replacing FOX Sports as a TV partner per the Hollywood Reporter.

* FS1 had plenty of live UFC content during college football & basketball seasons.  I don't know what 2018 will look like yet since it seems like the UFC fall schedule is being finalized.  Here's a quick view of 2017 & 2016 for college football season alone:

If FOX Sports isn't going after another college sports conference, maybe they would look to start their Pac-12 games a bit earlier where possible.  After UFC, I believe the NHL is the next pro sport to potentially be available after the 2020-21 season.

FS2 felt a de facto UFC replay channel, so it would need something new.  Maybe more college sports with some from the content staying behind if the sale of their regional sports networks goes through.  Maybe something else is coming that we don't know about.  FOX reportedly is adding Smackdown, but that would be for the broadcast network on Friday nights.   Archival WWE items come to mind but the WWE Network would seem to be the home for that.

* ESPN picking up 15 fight cards & PPV prelims, assuming this is what they got from THR's reporting, doesn't necessarily mean they'll be concentrated during college football & basketball season.  They aired one Top Rank card on a Saturday during college football season on 11/11/17.

At the risk of being way off on how this deal is structured & executed, does this affect any late evening college football or basketball?  Would there be more ESPN+ cards from September through March to reduce potential conflicts?  The Mountain West will be on the market soon & previously they made noise about their distaste for some of those later evening starts.  From several reports, BYU wants to remain with ESPN & prefers that relationship.  The Pac-12 should be unaffected as their media rights deals run through the 2023-24 athletic year.

As a side note, I'd be interested to see if there's any cross promotion between ESPN's Top Rank boxing cards and UFC.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

CFB TV Roundup from the ACC, ESPN and FOX Sports

* ESPN announced the first three weeks for ABC's Saturday Night Football today.  Some observations:
  • On paper, where matchups go to be proven wrong at times, Alabama-Louisville would look to be a mismatch, but ABC often only gets one chance a season to show Alabama & typically it is in these neutral site games.  Michigan at Notre Dame is also that evening & it could siphon off viewers if it is close.  We also don't know what other plans ESPN has for other games they have access to, such as Washington vs. Auburn.
  • Penn St. at Pittsburgh was given away as a night game by the Pirates when they moved the start time of their game on 9/8 from the evening to the afternoon.  From there, it was a matter of whether it was going to air on ABC or ESPN, but with some solid SEC options available for ESPN to work with, ABC was the place for the game.
  • The choice of Ohio St. vs. TCU for ABC on 9/15 is interesting from a few points, none of which I have the answer to, but should become clearer by the end of May:
    • Did ESPN choose this over USC vs. Texas?  FOX Sports announced at their advertising upfront on 5/14 that they would be carrying Oklahoma vs. Texas (keep reading for info on that), so was this the first choice of weeks by ESPN where they would pick first?
    • Did ESPN manage to get the top two Big 12 choices on 9/15, meaning they could air USC vs. Texas on ABC leading into this one, or on ESPN?  This isn't unheard of.  One could look at 9/8/17, where ABC had a tripleheader of Big Ten games, including both Pittsburgh at Penn St. & Oklahoma at Ohio St., though FOX had some limitations in their programming schedule with FS1 taken up most of the day by the Walker Cup and MLB in the early afternoon.
    • If FOX has USC vs. Texas, and it was not mentioned at the advertising upfront, will they air it as a competing night game?  As mentioned by Burke Magnus of ESPN in his appearance w/me on SportsTVRatings podcast, both ESPN and FOX Sports try to keep from showing games from the same conference on ABC & FOX when possible. The last time this occurred with the Big 12 was late 2015.  In non-conference play, the last time was early 2014.
* FOX Sports did announce three specific matchups that would be part of their schedule at their advertising upfront:
  • Michigan at Ohio St. (11/24)
  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (10/6)
  • Michigan at Michigan St. (10/20)
None of the games are a real surprise.  FOX Sports has the top choice of weeks to pick first from both the Big 12, which rotates between ESPN and them, and the Big Ten, which FOX Sports has for the duration of the rights agreement.  The slotting of the last two games will be worth watching.  When they last had access to Oklahoma vs. Texas, they chose to air it on FS1 and use it as a lead-in to their NLDS coverage...which was promptly rained out.  Either way, it ended up being a highly rated game and ESPN followed suit last year, airing it on pay TV instead of ABC.

As for Michigan at Michigan St., using the scheduling pattern of the 2014 & 2016 MLB postseason, the potential for a Saturday NLCS Game Six has to be accounted for and the game time is flexible based on whether there is a ALCS Game Seven or not.  Using FOX's strategy to give ALCS Game Seven in 2017 as little potential internal competition as possible with TCU vs. Kansas as the FOX night game, it would not surprise me to see FOX or FS1 air this intrastate matchup at noon.

* The first three weeks, plus nearly all non-Saturday games, of ACC controlled games had their time & TV assignments set on Friday.  Some items of note:
  • Samford at Florida St. being at night on ACC Network on 9/8 is the same as the original plans for FSU's game vs. UL Monroe last year.  As someone mentioned to me last year, FSU requested any early season ACC Network games to air at night.
  • The Braves are scheduled to play on FOX Sports South on 9/15 at night vs. Washington.  I would assume that the WKU-Louisville game being distributed to ACC RSNs will air on FOX Sports Southeast in many of those overlapping areas.  I believe a lot of Kentucky is served by FOX Sports Ohio.
  • For a few of the Friday night games, there looks to be potential for doubleheaders based on a few 7pm start times:
    • On 10/5, the Georgia Tech at Louisville game appears to be set to lead into Utah St. at BYU.
    • On 10/26, Miami (FL) at Boston College appears to be positioned to lead into Utah at UCLA.
    • Conversely, the 7:30pm start of Pittsburgh at Virginia on 11/2 leads me to believe the Colorado at Arizona game ends up with Pac-12 Networks or FS1, unless Arizona is cool with a 8pm local start on a Friday (they might be).  FS1 does have a NASCAR Truck Series race that evening, but Dennis Dodd reports that if there is a need for an overflow channel, FOX Business Channel will get the nod instead of FS2.

      To that point, there was a report from Sports Business Journal that FS1 could get a Thursday night NFL game or two in the event of a World Series conflict because of weather.  If that happens, and I believe Baylor at West Virginia is scheduled for FS1 based on ESPN having a full schedule of Thursday night games on 10/25, maybe that's the place the Big 12 game ends up instead of FS2 if an alternate network is needed.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Navy, AAC & CBS Sports Carve Out Unique Rights Agreement

When Navy moved to the American Athletic Conference as a football-only member, it did so while an existing contract was in place with CBS Sports Network to televise football games, with the exception of Army-Navy and their "home" game vs. Notre Dame.

Over that time, I admit that as I was under the impression that Navy's rights would then revert to the existing television contract the conference has with ESPN, but over this winter I was corrected on that stance and that the conference had retained those rights.  From there, the conference, Navy, CBS Sports and current primary rightsholder ESPN came to a new agreement on how to divide up Navy's football rights.

Note that Army-Navy is covered under a separate agreement that ends after the 2028 game.  That deal also included the matchup(s) in basketball.

From here, I'm going to ask you to read Bill Wagner's report from the Capital Gazette because he gets direct quotes on the agreement & negotiations from American Athletic commissioner Mike Aresco & Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk.

To summarize what Bill unearthed:
  • One Navy home game each season, plus the "home" game vs. Notre Dame in even numbered seasons, will be available to the primary rightsholder.  This provides some value to the American's future rights agreement with four Notre Dame games available to the conference for the length of this agreement.
  • All other home games will be on CBS Sports Network.
  • Navy had a strong desire to keep all of their football home games on Saturdays, which CBS was amenable to.
A source clarified that the primary rightsholder will not have access to Navy home games until 2020, which would be the first year of any new rights agreements.  CBS Sports Network would have all home games until then.  CBS also has exercised the option to carry the game vs. Notre Dame from San Diego.

From the press release, there are a few subtle items that may be noteworthy:
  • At the end of the first paragraph: "As part of the agreement, CBS Sports Network will continue to televise the majority of Navy home football games, including the Air Force at Navy game."

    Since Navy's out-of-conference schedule is fairly rigid with games vs. Army, Air Force & Notre Dame on an annual basis*, if CBSSN retains the Air Force game, that would seem to indicate that the primary rightsholder will get the top choice of Navy's AAC home games.

    *2018 has Navy playing 13 regular season games due to a road game at Hawai'i, so they have two other non-conference games instead of just one.
  • "The network also will televise additional select Navy home athletic events, including basketball, baseball and lacrosse games."

    Right now, I believe these events are covered through the Patriot League's agreement with CBS Sports Network.  I do not know if this statement is referring to that agreement, or if Navy was allowed to place specific events on the network outside of any agreements the Patriot League has.  As mentioned early, at least one Army-Navy matchup in basketball is covered as part of the agreement for the football game.
  • The length of the agreement is ten years, but the first two years run alongside the final two years of the American's rights agreement with ESPN.  Does this signal that the length of the American's upcoming rights agreement, potentially with ESPN based on the Capital Gazette article, will be eight years to line up the two agreements? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A few notes from the 2018 Mountain West national TV schedule release

Couple items I took away from MW TV schedule release

The schedule so far

* Feels like one American Athletic game will end up on CBSSN on Black Friday of the three available (Houston-Memphis, UCF-USF or East Carolina-Cincinnati) unless a C-USA game has a date change.  Would be a doubleheader w/MAC.

* Memphis at SMU now seems locked to an ESPN network on 11/16 with Boise St. at New Mexico, as does USF at Tulsa on 10/12.  Arizona at Utah on 10/12 could also end up on an ESPN network, maybe not the same one as USF at Tulsa though.  The reason I don't think Arizona at Utah wouldn't be with FS1 is due to their MLB postseason commitments.

* Lafayette at Army appears to be set for 12pm ET on 11/10 with New Mexico at Air Force at 3:30pm.  Most Army games on campus are expected to be noon starts, but this one seems more pinned down.

* Look for Louisville at Syracuse to start at 7pm ET on 11/9 with the Fresno St. at Boise St. game to follow it on ESPN2 with the 10:15pm ET start its been given.

* I'm under the impression that CBS Sports Network is preparing to continue carrying Navy home games, either via sublicense or through a direct agreement. Looks like these would be the start times:
  • 9/8 - Memphis: 12pm
  • 9/15 - SMU: 3:30pm (assuming Army at 12pm)
  • 10/13 - Temple: 12pm or 3:30pm
  • 10/20 - Houston: 3:30pm (assuming Army at 12pm)
  • 11/17 - Tulsa: 3:30pm (assuming Army at 12pm)
I've been told that the Navy game vs. Notre Dame in San Diego on 10/27 will be on CBS.  CBS had an option to air this year's game and elected to pick it up. It should be a night game with Florida vs. Georgia expected to be the afternoon game.

* Hawai'i has seven games available for their Spectrum PPV package (Rice, Duquesne, at San Jose St., Wyoming, Nevada, Utah St. & UNLV).  Four games were selected for national TV and the road games at BYU & Army should be part of those schools' rights packages, with ESPN & BYUtv and CBS Sports Network, respectively.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Take Two - CFB TV Guesses for 2018 Weeks 0 & 1

Since there's been a few changes, additions and news items for the early season portion of the 2018 college football season, after initially deciding not to do it, I decided to write out "take two" posts for each week.

Here's the updated Week Zero & Week One and here's the original for comparison purposes.  Similar to the original - if you don't see your game listed, assume it is online only.

Week Zero

I've placed Hawai'i at Colorado St. with ESPN.  If it were to air on CBS Sports Network, it might air earlier in the day.  It could also air on ESPN leading into the FCS Kickoff game.  I don't have any knowledge of any Top Rank events that ESPN could air.  UFC has a Fight Night card tentatively scheduled for this night which should occupy FS1.

Duquesne at UMass, 6pm Eleven Sports
North Carolina A&T vs. Jacksonville St., 6:30pm ESPN
Wyoming at New Mexico St., 8pm AggieVision
Hawai'i at Colorado St., 10pm ESPN

Week One

Northwestern St. at Texas A&M has been moved to Thursday 8/30 for a SEC Network telecast.  Per the Washington Post, 8/30 through 9/4 is the FIFA international play window for women's soccer.  ESPN2 should be relatively locked into US Open tennis.  I would think that if ESPN airs a game, it would be Monday-Wednesday, where FS1 could take a game on Thursday if they desire.

UCF at Connecticut, 6pm CBSSN
Northwestern at Purdue, 7:30pm ESPN
New Mexico St. at Minnesota, 8pm BTN
Weber St. at Utah, 8pm Pac-12 Networks
Northwestern St. at Texas A&M, 8:30pm SEC (confirmed)
Wake Forest at Tulane, 9pm CBSSN

Syracuse at Western Michigan & Colorado vs. Colorado St. have both been moved to Friday to give CBSSN a doubleheader.

Syracuse at Western Michigan, 6pm CBSSN (network confirmed only)
Utah St. at Michigan St., 8pm ESPN
Western Kentucky at Wisconsin, 8pm FS1
Colorado vs. Colorado St., 9:30pm CBSSN (confirmed)
San Diego St. at Stanford, 10pm Pac-12

No major changes to the games available for Saturday.  As previously suspected, FS1 will have two MLB windows at 4pm & 7pm ET.  I do not know if there will be a UFC event on this Saturday, specifically if there will be a pay-per-view event that FS1 would be contracted to air prelims for.

I dropped the 12pm CBSSN window in this configuration and placed Houston at Rice at 3:30pm in place of Colorado vs. Colorado St..  I also moved Army at Duke to ACC Network Extra to account for only one SEC game on Thursday. And yes, I know someone on the CBS crew(?) has said that they'll have Tennessee vs. West Virginia, but I don't necessarily think that a sublicense is a sure thing or required.

12pm ABC: Texas vs. Maryland
12pm FOX: FAU at Oklahoma
12pm ESPN: Akron at Nebraska
12pm FS1: Appalachian St. at Penn St.
12pm FSN: Abilene Christian at Baylor
12pm ESPNU: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt
12pm SEC: Austin Peay at Georgia
12pm SEC: Eastern Illinois at Arkansas
12pm BTN: Texas St. at Rutgers
12:20pm ACC Network: Furman at Clemson
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Massachusetts at Boston College
2pm Pac-12: Bowling Green at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Louisville vs. Alabama
3:30pm FOX: Oregon St. at Ohio St.
3:30pm ESPNU: Boise St. at Troy
3:30pm CBSSN: Houston at Rice
3:30pm BTN: Kent St. at Illinois
3:30pm FSN: Missouri St. at Oklahoma St.
4pm SEC: Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi St.
4pm SEC: UT Martin at Missouri
5pm Pac-12: North Carolina at California
5:30pm ESPN: Tennessee vs. West Virginia
6pm KStateHD.TV/ESPN3: South Dakota at Kansas St.
7pm CBSSN: Indiana at FIU
7pm beIN Sports: SMU at North Texas
7pm Jayhawk TV: Nicholls at Kansas
7:30pm NBC: Michigan at Notre Dame (confirmed)
7:30pm FOX: Cincinnati at UCLA
7:30pm ESPNU: Central Michigan at Kentucky
7:30pm SEC: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
7:30pm SEC: Charleston Southern at Florida
7:30pm BTN: Northern Illinois at Iowa
8pm ABC: Washington vs. Auburn
8pm Pac-12: UNLV at USC
8pm Cyclones.TV: South Dakota St. at Iowa St.
8pm FSN: Southern at TCU
9pm ESPN: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
10:15pm ESPNU: Washington St. at Wyoming
10:30pm FS1: BYU at Arizona
10:30pm CBSSN: Navy at Hawai'i
11pm Pac-12: UTSA at Arizona St.

7:30pm ABC: LSU vs. Miami (FL) confirmed

No updates from me here.  The original post spells out my thoughts on this date.

8pm ESPN: Virginia Tech at Florida St. (network confirmed, to be in primetime)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Feeding Your Conference Realignment Hunger: Mountain West, Gonzaga, BYU and Others

I really don't like discussing conference realignment, but I've become more apathetic towards the topic, so I guess it doesn't hurt to touch on a few quick items regarding the news that Gonzaga is possibly considering Mountain West membership.

* As Matt Brown mentioned, and I agree, going for Gonzaga first puts BYU in a corner of sorts.  It also complicates any negotiations BYU may have had with ESPN about continuing their television contract for football rights.  The flipside for this is that the Mountain West allowed Boise St. to dictate terms of remaining in the Mountain West several years back, and some of those terms included keeping their home games tied to ESPN with some exceptions.

Mountain West rights agreements with ESPN and CBS Sports Network expire after the 2019-20 athletic year, so this might be the conference getting a jump on things, similar to the Sun Belt, though the Sun Belt had a football conference championship game to use as the reason to start discussions.

* Another item to watch when it comes to taking on Gonzaga & BYU could be their preference to maintain the TV roles KHQ/ROOT Sports Northwest & BYUtv, respectively, have today.  In the case of BYU, it may not be as hard to do as it was back when the Mountain West dealt with CSTV and Comcast's Versus.  ROOT Sports and its sister RSNs of AT&T SportsNet should be easy to incorporate.  Whether any of these schools would raise a stink over any ESPN3 / ESPN+ exclusives is another story.

* A potential complication for BYU is either buying out, cancelling or postponing tons of future football games.  Per FBSchedules, the Cougars are fully scheduled for 2019, at ten games for 2020 & 2021, and have at least six games accounted for per season through 2023.

How did Navy accomplish this?  They accepted an invite in January of 2012 but did not join in football until 2015, giving them three seasons to complete as many game contracts as possible and either buyout or cancel many other contracts.

* The WCC's TV rights come up after the 2018-19 athletic year, so this is quite pivotal for any agreement the conference attempts to negotiate.  Gonzaga & BYU can be replaced by other schools, more in physical status than in value & recognition.  If the WCC were to look to the same private, faith based institutions that make up the membership todays, I believe Seattle and Grand Canyon would be first targets.  Seattle has wanted back in the conference ever since they returned to Division I.  Grand Canyon is a bit more interesting because they are attempting to change their for-profit status.

* The WCC's new scheduling model, announced Monday, seems to be a nod to Gonzaga.  It gives the schools two more non-conference opportunities to do as they wish.  Let's be clear the changes this doesn't necessarily poke a stick at St. Mary's and its inability to get to the NCAA tournament as an at-large:
  • Top two seeds don't play until the semifinals - St. Mary's lost in the semifinals, not before that.
  • Play more home games than road games - St. Mary's played eight non-conference home games, two true road games and a neutral site multi-team event.
  • Play in a multi-team event - That box was checked.
The Gaels ticked off all those boxes.  Its about what they do with those eight home games, or maybe a couple less home games and trying out a few more home-home series.

As for the model itself of 16 conference games and the stepladder format for the conference tournament, that was the model pre-BYU & Pacific when the WCC was an eight team league.  This might have also been a precursor to a future without BYU and Gonzaga.

* If the Mountain West adds both BYU and Gonzaga, that leads to 13 schools in most sports.  The MEAC has done 13 member conference tournaments and the MAC had a period of 13 football playing members and a scheduling model for it too, so it can be done.  

New Mexico St. might be a target to get to 14 & balance things out.  The Aggies are re-entering football independence while in the WAC for others sports.  If they are being considered for membership, it could be tied to BYU and their entry.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pac-12 MBK Final: Does Its Tie-In With FOX Sports Need Improvement?

Jon Wilner from Bay Area News Group posted his most recent Pac-12 Stock Report and brought up how the Pac-12 men's basketball championship had a significantly lower number of viewers compared to all other top basketball conferences and was significantly outpaced by the Mountain West.

I responded back to Jon about it and we had a brief conversation on it over Twitter.  I thought it was worth posting it here instead of attempting to paraphrase it.

And a brief sidebar:
True, and I think its a relevant point because for a long time the semifinals were on FSN at the times they currently are when split between Pac-12 Networks, ESPN and FS1, and then were followed by a 3pm PT start on CBS for the championship game after the Big Ten Semifinals.

I don't think Friday night is the answer regardless of where it airs.  The final does better on Saturday on ESPN because it has the lead-in of the ACC.  FOX's best lead-in, and arguably one that should help both games, is to pair them together on broadcast television.  Right now they'd had to change other scheduling considerations to make it happen (this year, a Xfinity Series race aired on FOX before the Big East Championship), but to get the most back for your buck out of both, I think you have to lobby to hook yourself to Saturday and another championship game.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Friday Night Lights: Where's Your CFB Game Potentially Airing

Friday has become more of a destination night for college football compared to Thursdays where the NFL has provided regular competition for several years, including the last four with regular simulcasts on broadcast television.  So where is your game more likely to air?  More are on the way as you can look for more Mountain West weeknight games in April & C-USA sometime in the spring.  As for what has been set, I tried to figure it out:

8/31: The Big Ten have a pair of football games here, so expect one on ESPN and one on FS1.  With Pac-12 Networks airing last year's Rocky Mountain Showdown, I could see the San Diego St. at Stanford game airing there or on ESPNU.  Boise St. at Troy might be a Friday night ESPNU candidate too, possibly hooking into something on 9/7 (keep reading).

9/7: TCU at SMU is the only Friday night game scheduled and should air on ESPN2.  CBS Sports Network could also air this one in the event ESPN had more interest in Connecticut at Boise St., and both schools are willing to move to Friday night.  With Boise St. being on the road at Troy the week before, that might not interest them though unless there was a corresponding date change for the game at Troy.

ESPN has primary rights on Boise St. home games and can move up to three Boise St. games to weeknights.  There's also some rules about CBSSN airing Boise St. home games (they have to trade one of BSU's Mountain West road games), but I wouldn't expect ESPN to give this one up.

CBSSN might also have interest in Baylor at UTSA.

9/14: Georgia St. at Memphis is currently available, but my expectation is for another game to be moved here.  I guessed Miami (FL) at Toledo earlier.  One of the Pac-12 at Mountain West matchups (Arizona St. at San Diego St. or Oregon St. at Nevada) could be considered for a move as well.

9/21: FAU at UCF seems like it was added for the purpose of airing on ESPN, which should push Penn St. at Illinois to FS1.  Washington St. at USC seems like it would be paired with FAU at UCF as part of a doubleheader.

Could a C-USA game move here for CBS Sports Network, like Virginia Tech at Old Dominion or NC State at Marshall?  Maybe, but NC State vetoed a weeknight date change for national TV when visiting Old Dominion a few years back.  Virginia Tech at Old Dominion might be more plausible.  Both could stay on Saturday with one airing on Stadium too since they'll have the chance at some higher end games from the C-USA inventory.

9/28: My expectation is that Memphis at Tulane would be on ESPN and UCLA at Colorado would air on FS1.

10/5: Look for a doubleheader of Georgia Tech at Louisville followed by Utah St. at BYU on ESPN.

10/12: I can see USF at Tulsa airing on CBS Sports Network or ESPN2 with Arizona at Utah on ESPN.  I would not expect the games to be presented as a doubleheader on ESPN.  FS1 should be out based on MLB playoff scheduling.

10/19: Colorado St. at Boise St. is set for ESPN2 and it might end up being their only game as the NBA should be in season on ESPN.  CBS Sports Network could take on a C-USA game if interested, like FAU at Marshall or Old Dominion at Western Kentucky.

10/26: FS1 is available to take games again with the end of their MLB commitments.  Indiana at Minnesota seems likely here, with ESPN taking a doubleheader of Miami (FL) at Boston College & Utah at UCLA.

11/2: This one is a bit tricky.  Pittsburgh at Virginia is likely to air on ESPN2, but Colorado at Arizona could either be paired with it or air separately on FS1 after NASCAR truck races. A hint as to whether the Pac-12 game is in play for FS1 could be whether they adjust the start time for the truck race at least 30 minutes earlier.  There was an overlap on a Truck Series race last year with the Washington at Stanford game that ticked off a lot of viewers, so maybe FOX uses FOX Business for the race in this case.

11/9: Louisville at Syracuse is the only game set for Friday at this time.  ESPN will be carrying the Armed Forces Classic MBK event, so the football game should be on ESPN2.  If there's a doubleheader, look for a Mountain West game, but if the Pac-12's China game (2018: Yale vs. California) airs on ESPN2, you'll probably not have another football game.  CBS Sports Network might also be carrying the Veterans Classic event on this Friday (might not be a doubleheader) and they have the PBR World Finals in the late evening, so they would also appear to be out.

11/16: ESPN should have several hours tied up with college basketball events like the 2K Classic and events in Charleston & Puerto Rico.  Memphis at SMU is scheduled but I can see that one going to CBSSN as they've carried Friday football at this particular point in the season in the past.  The Mountain West looks like the possible conference to take on this Friday for ESPN2.  Boise St. at New Mexico is a possibility though ESPN would need to send a Boise St. home game over to CBSSN to air that game.

11/23: Black Friday, which is more like its own mini Saturday.  This year has more games available as the PK 80 event was, so far, a one time event (NOTE: The AD who was active in getting the event off the ground recently resigned from Michigan St.).  Here's my early take on a split of games:

ESPN & ABC: Virginia at Virginia Tech, two of the American games, one Big 12 and one Pac-12 game. Look for a MAC window as well.

FOX Sports: Two Big 12, one Pac-12 and Nebraska at Iowa

CBS Sports Network: They'll have a window for either the MAC, plus either an American or Mountain West game.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Quick Look at New C-USA Rights Agreements

A few items on the new Conference USA rights agreements

* CBS Sports Network essentially picked up the ESPN portion of the rights agreement, taking on the five regular season football games plus the conference championship game in addition to the six regular season football games they already carried.  Men's basketball will also see a marginal increase in linear television exposure (two games).  To lighten their load, potentially three of those 12 football games and up to six men's basketball games will air on Facebook with a CBS production.

CBSSN has also been working on (finally) adding authenticated streaming for the TV providers they have agreements with.  Recently they added DirecTV and Dish.

And to get a five year deal with a financial bump from CBS Sports where the last set of deals were of a shorter term is nice security.  Even with the addition of three C-USA games, CBSSN should still have plenty of room if it is working on adjustments in the areas of the American, MAC or Mountain West.

* Any webcast, whether its ESPN3, Facebook or school produced is a nice extra because of how the school can work to pick the optimal start time to maximize ticket sales and still get a TV quality production.  And there are ways to push these streams to televisions, so to point to these streams and say that you can only watch them on a computer is a misnomer.

* Production costs of streams were pointed out as a reason to not go the route that the Sun Belt did with ESPN+ and those costs, depending on the contract, could lead to the conference eating up its rights fee.  For example, the previous contract with the Missouri Valley Conference called for them to pay a portion of production costs and that cost exceeded the rights fee the conference was receiving from ESPN.

* beIN Sports wasn't mentioned, but they remain a rightsholder for 2018-19.  Their agreement was one year longer than the expiring CBSSN and ESPN agreements.  Per North Texas AD Wren Baker, the conference is still talking with both them and ESPN.  The talks with ESPN might end up being about how schools can self-produce content to air on ESPN3.

* Right now, the televised game count is slightly lower, but the conference is banking on accessibility of Facebook in addition to linear TV.  Its an interesting bet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Units earned in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Have tracked this the last couple years.  Here's some information on how much a unit pays out over a six year period.

68 units are earned simply by qualifying for the tournament as an at-large or conference champion.  A unit is earned for each game played, except for the national championship game.  Essentially the unit count is frozen once the Final Four is set.  A win in the First Four is no different than a credit earned at any other time.

The conferences listed are those who have earned more than one credit.  This will be updated upon the close of games each night or the following morning.

Updated as of completion of 3/25 games

ACC - 21
America East - 2
American - 5
Atlantic 10 - 5
Big 12 - 19
Big East - 13
Big South - 2
Big Ten - 12
C-USA - 2
MAC - 2
Mountain West - 4
MVC - 5
Pac-12 - 3
SEC - 16
SWAC - 2
WCC - 3

16 conferences have earned a single credit.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Key Points of the Sun Belt Contract Extension with ESPN

Here's some key points I found while reading through the various releases & articles on the extended Sun Belt & ESPN rights agreement.   For your reading & audio enjoyment:

Audio Conference

* While I deal with the topic of financials far less, maybe because it's not as relevant to me, the AP is reporting the Sun Belt will increase their rights fee payment from ESPN.  I expected some form of increase in rights fee, but the conference was starting from the floor compared to many of their peers & even a doubling of their rights fee from ESPN would only result in an average per school of around $200,000 to start, with non-football members like UT Arlington & Little Rock receiving another, presumably reduced, amount.   I don't know if Idaho or New Mexico St. received any rights fee when they were affiliate members in football.  Hawai'i doesn't from the Mountain West unless certain revenue targets are met and I doubt Navy did from the American when they have had side deals for the Army-Navy game and their own home games with CBS Sports.

Per the audio teleconference, commissioner Karl Benson referred to the rights fee as being on par with other Group of Five conferences.  The MAC's purported rights fee is around $833,000 per school, $10 million to the conference per year.  If they were closer to that, then Benson is right that the increase is significant, even if the number is small by the standards set by the Power 5 conferences.

* I don't know how this affects the deal that UL-Lafayette (or Louisiana, I know there's been squawking about the branding for several years) recently signed with Cox Sports in Louisiana to televise several events in market with ESPN3 showing them out of market.  It was brought up during the audio conference, but how it fits is rather vague.  It would only cover through the remainder of the existing rights agreement, so maybe the length of the deal was on purpose due to the forthcoming ESPN extension.

* Karl Benson confirmed on the audio conference something that I suspected as for the reason for the early extension: they had to account for the addition of the football conference championship game, which was no different than what happened when the Pac-12 and Big Ten added conference championship games in the middle of their television agreements (I believe the American's was negotiated as part of the commencement of their rights agreement with Navy as an incoming member).  ESPN may have had the first crack at negotiating to carry any football championship as part of their existing contract and used the opportunity to look forward and stock some college sports content for their upcoming add-on service, ESPN+, which is not to be confused with the entity ESPN Regional Television ran for several years to syndicate college sports content from several conferences & schools.

* Not mentioned: ESPNews.  I suspect the Sun Belt would gladly take any appearance on that network, but unlike the American & Mountain West press releases of prior years where ESPNews was listed as a potential outlet, I suspect the focus for linear pay TV was ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

(Side note since it debuted this past week - CBS Sports HQ, the new digital sports news channel from CBS, looks a lot like ESPNews, and maybe that's where ESPNews should be headed full time.  Back to the Belt)

* In terms of linear TV, I found the increases to be on the small side, but I didn't expect a lot more appearances, though it could be viewed under the prism of less schools involved on the football side.  To the nitty gritty:
  • A minimum of three additional football games will air on linear television.  The previous minimum of seven increases to ten.  If you're looking at 2018, so far the minimum has not been met, so you might see a game added as part of the early season selections, such as Boise St. at Troy, or the seventh game may be the conference championship game.
  • Per the audio conference, the football championship game is committed for Saturday as the day of the week.  
  • An increase to a minimum of six appearances in men's basketball, which is on par with how many appearances they had in regular season intraconference play (3 games X 2 teams = 6 appearances) in 2017-18.  The previous minimum was four appearances.
  • The schools, to produce digital content for ESPN, will have to upgrade equipment to do so.  Some more than others.  No different from what other conferences, like the MAC, Atlantic Sun, SoCon & others, have had to do, but there are expenses behind that.
  • The content for ESPN+ is still being decided and how much & quickly it moves from ESPN3 is to being determined, so we might know a lot more in the spring.

I don't know that I would use everything about this extension as a barometer for any future contract negotiations with ESPN, but I would expect ESPN+ to be discussed at every one of them.  As mentioned, the dialog for this agreement started with the rights for the football championship game and it morphed into this extension.

The Sun Belt schools weren't receiving a lot of TV money previously and typically received the least amount of linear TV exposure of the FBS conferences.  This agreement, by 2020, would put them closer to the level that the MAC receives on ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPNU (right around 12 games) in football.  The big addition is that the inventory that many schools retained for themselves, sometimes in men's basketball but mostly in all other sports other than football, will move over time to the ESPN+ umbrella.   

What will be worth watching is whether conferences who currently have established relationships with ESPN & who have organized some content outside of those agreements under digital umbrellas, like the American, Mountain West and WCC, would be willing to move that content to ESPN+ for an additional fee.  Another item worth considering, particularly for the MAC and American, is whether it is more valuable to maintain that ESPN provide as much linear television opportunities as possible, specifically when it comes to the sublicensing arrangements ESPN has with CBS Sports Network, or would they be willing to move that content over to ESPN+ for an increase in rights fee.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Way Too Early 2018 CFB TV Guesses: Week Three

Week 3

* I moved Miami (FL) at Toledo to Friday for ESPN.  I didn't think Georgia St. at Memphis warranted being on primary ESPN based on the matchup, so that's why ESPNU was used here.  I realize the Toledo game wasn't moved when the MAC schedule was announced, but they do occasionally move games after the schedule is announced.

Two other scenarios for the Friday night game if Georgia St. at Memphis isn't scheduled to air on ESPN:

  • A Big 12 games moves to a Friday night.  That might affect the order of the games selected in the Big 12 and could move one of the SEC Network games to either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
  • Arkansas St. at Tulsa airs on CBSSN on Saturday, moving either Oregon St. at Nevada or Arizona St. at San Diego St. to ESPN.

* UFC is rumored to have a PPV event in Moscow during this week, holding Olympic Stadium on Friday & Saturday.  I think the PPV prelims could be in the mid-afternoon on FS1 (4pm ET = 11pm in Moscow).  A MLB game is scheduled for FS1 at 7pm as well.

* I gave the top Big Ten, Big 12 & Pac-12 selections to ESPN.  For those of you scoring at home, that means I had ESPN selecting Ohio St. vs. TCU over USC at Texas.

* Yes, I short-windowed Alabama at Ole Miss.  The trend I've seen with Pac-12 games is that they seem to want a TV window starting no later than 8pm local time, which is why Washington at Utah is at 10pm ET.

* Because I had five games for the Pac-12 Networks to handle, assuming one isn't moved to another night of the week, I took the two Bay Area games and put the Cal game on the Bay Area feed after the Stanford game, but staggering the start time of the Cal game so that it should be available to view in full on the Bay Area feed.

If a game isn't listed, assume it is on a streaming service where the home school has more control over start time.  The link at the top has all games currently set for TV this week.

All times Eastern.

8pm ESPN: Miami (FL) at Toledo
8pm ESPNU: Georgia St. at Memphis

12pm ABC: Florida St. at Syracuse
12pm ESPN: USF vs. Illinois
12pm ESPN2: Colorado St. at Florida
12pm ESPNU: Kent St. at Penn St.
12pm FS1: Missouri at Purdue
12pm FS2: Houston at Texas Tech
12pm FSN: UTSA at Kansas St.
12pm SEC: UTEP at Tennessee
12pm SEC: Marshall at South Carolina
12pm BTN: Northern Iowa at Iowa
12pm BTN: Troy at Nebraska
12pm ACC RSNs: UCF at North Carolina
12pm CBSSN: Hawai'i at Army
12:20pm ACC Network: Georgia Southern at Clemson
2pm Pac-12: New Hampshire at Colorado
3:30pm ABC: SMU at Michigan
3:30pm CBS: LSU at Auburn
3:30pm ESPN: West Virginia at NC State
3:30pm ESPN2: Oklahoma at Iowa St.
3:30pm ESPNU: East Carolina at Virginia Tech
3:30pm FSN: Rutgers at Kansas
3:30pm FS2: Duke at Baylor
3:30pm ACC RSNs: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh
3:30pm CBSSN: Lehigh at Navy
3:30pm BTN: Akron at Northwestern
3:30pm BTN: Miami (OH) at Minnesota
4pm SEC: UL-Monroe at Texas A&M
4pm SEC: Murray St. at Kentucky
4pm ESPNEWS: Arkansas St. at Tulsa
4:30pm FOX: USC at Texas
5pm Pac-12: Idaho St. at Stanford
7pm ESPN: Alabama at Ole Miss
7pm ESPN2: Boise St. at Oklahoma St.
7pm ESPNU: North Texas at Arkansas
7pm CBSSN: Oregon St. at Nevada
7:30pm SEC: UL-Lafayette at Mississippi St.
7:30pm SEC: Middle Tennessee at Georgia
7:30pm BTN: Ball St. at Indiana
7:30pm BTN: Temple at Maryland
8pm ABC: Ohio St. vs. TCU
8pm Pac-12: Eastern Washington at Washington St.
8:30pm FOX: BYU at Wisconsin
8:30pm Pac-12 Bay Area: Idaho St. at California
10pm ESPN: Washington at Utah
10:30pm FS1: Fresno St. at UCLA
10:30pm ESPN2: San Jose St. at Oregon
10:30pm CBSSN: Arizona St. at San Diego St.
11pm Pac-12: Southern Utah at Arizona