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.

1 comment:

Matt Schnuck said...

Ya, I said Alabama would be in primetime. They turn the needle. I look forward to the first three weeks to come out. It's better than Christmas for me!