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:

American

* 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)

MAC

* 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.

Pac-12

* 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.

SEC

* 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.

6 comments:

Matt Schnuck said...

Why is there a variable count for FOX with the Big Ten of 13-16? Don't they get 27 picks, like ESPN. They used 11. Should have a hard 16 left?

Matt Schnuck said...

Why is the Big Ten a variable count for the FOX picks? Isn't it a solid 27?

Matt Sarzyniak said...

The information I was given last year was that FOX's counts could be variable. I assume that was due to potential programming conflicts with postseason baseball.

http://mattsarzsports.blogspot.com/2017/07/a-few-content-parameters-for-big-ten.html

Darrell McKown said...

I realize that Fox's hands are a bit tied in week one due to ESPN's involvement in all the neutral site games, but has there ever been a worse broadcast network tripleheader than Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma, North Carolina at Cal, and Akron at Nebraska?

I'm not certain Akron at Nebraska was even worth one of their approximately 27 selections for the year, much less network primetime.

Josh Pruitt said...

Matt,

Thanks for the roundup. Two questions I had that doesn't seem to be answered here or anywhere else are about the Notre Dame kickoff times for 2018. I see that they have three (!) 7:30pm kick times against Michigan, Stanford, and Florida State, respectively. I thought there was a limit to the number of night games Notre Dame either could or was willing to host, but maybe that's gone away? The other question I have is that of the four afternoon kicks, only one is slated for 3:30, Ball State. The other three, against Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse, are slated for 2:30. I do recall Notre Dame setting their afternoon kicks for 2:30 in the not-too-distant past, but it seemed like in the last few years they had settled on the customary 3:30 window. Is there something up with perhaps NBC's preferences on these dates that would push the start times up an hour from 3:30 to 2:30? I know NBC has NASCAR in the fall but most of the time the secondary Xfinity series races on Saturday on NBCSN, so I don't think that would be a huge conflict.

Thanks!

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Hi Josh

1) The evening ND start times - good question. I don't have an answer to it. You're correct that ND previously had a "three over two years" rule, which became a "two per year" rule pretty quickly, which tacked on one more in 2018. I have to assume that ND was OK with this when NBC asked. I certainly see why doing this for the Michigan (restart of series) & Florida St. (2nd visit since the 1993 "Game of the Century"). Both of these games will have Xfinity races on NBC before them too. Stanford should be a top 15 team too & the Ryder Cup is that weekend.

2) For the Ball State game, I assume the coverage of the BMW Championship PGA event will will have coverage in the early afternoon before the game, so maybe that one had a later start time due to the coverage of that event.