Saturday, June 1, 2019

Thoughts on Initial CFB TV Selections For 2019

2019
ESPN
FOX Sports
CBS & CBSSN

* Looks like FOX's MLB postseason schedule will give them those Friday openings for Colorado at Oregon on 10/11 & Ohio St. at Northwestern on 10/18.  I was playing the incorrect hunch that FOX Sports' ALCS or NLCS schedule had not started on the Saturday since 2014, which is incorrect because they started the 2016 NLCS on a Saturday night on FS1 too.

2014 happened to be the year they got themselves in a bit of a jam with a weeknight football game, having to move Utah at Oregon St. from FS1 to FS2 plus Pac-12 Networks coverage.

* Its been drilled into my head that FOX Sports RSNs would be managed by FOX for some period of time after Sinclair takes over.  Don't know the closing date for that transaction yet, but Sinclair seemed optimistic that it could happen in the 3rd Quarter of 2019.  So we'll have at least a few Big 12 games on their channels, plus a package of ACC games.

I'm not going to speculate if Big 12 games will continue there beyond 2019, but the ACC games will be there well into the 2020s.  My personal opinion is that its not worth guessing how Sinclair is going to manage these RSNs or how FOX manages this subset of content, at least in their near term.

* Apparently Liberty's one year of games on ESPN3 was a bridge year to ESPN+, where most of their Atlantic Sun athletic contents reside.

* This is old news, but if you have the FOX Sports GO app on your phone, you've likely been directed to get the FOX Sports app & FOXSports.com/live to watch content from FOX, FOX Deportes, FS1, FS2 and BTN, where FOX Sports Go & FOXSportsGo.com is the place to watch your FOX branded RSN content.  I've made that delineation on the schedule site as well.  My working theory is that FOX Sports Go will be sent over to Sinclair in the RSN transaction so that authentication to those channels remains seamless once they take over those RSNs.

I assume that the FSN football games from the Big 12 & ACC, plus Big East content later this fall & winter, will require the FOX Sports Go app & not be available via the FOX Sports app.  Confused?

* One immediate change with the addition of the ACC Network: No games were scheduled for ESPNEWS over the first three weeks of the season.  Maybe that's where the UFC PPV prelims for the Abu Dhabi event on 9/7 will end up airing as ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are all in use.

* Speaking of UFC, the Fight Night card on 12/7 on ESPN means that the Mountain West championship will air at 4pm ET, at the same time as the American on ABC (3:30pm for them) & SEC on CBS.

Also, the Michigan St. at Ohio St. on 10/5, preselected to air at 7:30pm on ABC or ESPN, happens to be on the same evening that ESPN is tentatively scheduled to air UFC PPV prelims.  Unless the PPV prelims move to ESPN2, I'd expect the football game to be on ABC as its already been set with the new ABC primetime start time of 7:30pm ET.

* The agreement for CBS to sublicense SEC games from ESPN, usually during the first two weeks of the season, ended after the 2018 season and appears to have not been renewed or renegotiated, so CBS's schedule will start as it did in most prior years when it carried US Open tennis (the weekend after the US Open final).  CBS and ESPN kept their MAC sublicense alive for at least 2019, with ten scheduled games on CBS Sports Network.

In my opinion and I'm not alone in this boat, the placement of the SEC primetime game on CBS on 9/21 is for Notre Dame at Georgia.  They don't have to make that announcement until 9/9 when TV assignments for 9/21 are made.  Also, CBS's schedule only has the one telecast window on 11/9 at 3:30pm ET.  That Saturday is notable as it is the date of the LSU at Alabama game, which has been played in primetime since 2011.

* Still no CFB game scheduled for Thursday 9/13 after North Carolina at Wake Forest was moved from that date to Friday 9/14.

* A couple folks have asked about the strategy that FOX has implemented, intending to place their best game at noon ET, then looking at the choices made over the first three weeks and being underwhelmed.  I'm not going to toe the company line for them.  They went with draws (Michigan & Ohio St.) in those slots.  Will those games be compelling to watch?  Can't say, so I do understand that part of the skepticism.  But these weren't going to be Pac-12 games, so Oklahoma at UCLA wasn't going to land there.  If there's a quibble between using Ohio St. at Indiana over Arizona St. at Michigan St., I can understand that one but Ohio St. draws.  They just do.

* There's some interesting info from a list of timeslots passed along to me for FOX broadcast networks game times:
  • Only one game at 12pm on 9/21 and 10/12.  I understand the reason in mid-October (MLB postseason) and Texas vs. Oklahoma is a good one to have.  Same with Wisconsin at Michigan on 9/21, but I can't figure out yet why only one game, unless they'll be moving a MLB window from FS1 over there, or a PBC card scheduled for FS1 that evening gets elevated.
  • It seems that FOX is going with MLB in primetime on 9/28, unless that game window is moving. 
  • 11/9 has a opening in mid-afternoon with no plan to air a game.  Would happen to be the weekend of LSU at Alabama, so if it stays in mid-afternoon, is FOX just laying out?
* So ESPN appears to have highly valued the Notre Dame at Michigan game (maybe that goes against the World Series on FOX, or try to take a bite out of them at 12pm?) and LSU at Texas with (instead of?) the Red River Shootout going to FOX for the second straight year.  I'm curious where Bedlam ends up on 11/30 since it's often a game that gets locked into a network family early.

Beyond those decision (ESPN also seems to value the 2nd week of the season with the Big Ten usually, just an observation), several Big Ten homecoming games interest me because of where they likely won't air:
  • The FOX listing sheet that I was sent says 9/28 has their broadcast network games earmarked for the Big 12 & Pac-12, so Indiana at Michigan St. won't air there.  FS1 also has a MLB window to slot, so once that gets settled, Indiana at Michigan St. might not be available at all for them,
  • None of the three games available on 10/12 (Michigan St. at Wisconsin, Rutgers at Indiana, Maryland at Purdue) would air on FOX because they don't have any other games after Red River, plus there's a NASCAR truck series race on FS1 in the early afternoon, so Rutgers at Indiana & Maryland at Purdue, both 12pm starts, wouldn't be available to them either.
  • Indications are that both games on 10/19 on FOX will come from the Big 12, so Purdue at Iowa, Wisconsin at Illinois and Minnesota at Rutgers wouldn't be on the broadcast network.
  • Iowa at Northwestern on 10/26 could air on FOX, but not FS1 with a NASCAR truck series race currently scheduled around the football game's 12pm start.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Final TV Guesses For 2019 College Football Early Season & Special Dates

One final run at the early season & special date TV schedule with most of these to be announced on May 30th.

In the interest of trying to keep this blog post short, I'm creating links to Google Docs for each week plus the weeknight schedule.

If a game isn't listed, I assuming it will be online only via ESPN3/ESPN+, Stadium online or other means.

Weeks Zero & One
Week Two
Week Three
Special Dates (Week Four & Beyond Weeknights)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Notes on Early Season ACC, ABC Primetime Games & Championship Saturday

* ABC has followed FOX's lead of showing the Pac-12 Championship game on broadcast television on Friday night.  In addition, they'll carry the ACC, American & Big 12 games on ABC on Saturday.  My assumption is that the Big 12 or ACC will be at noon while the American will be slotted against the SEC title game in the middle like last year.  Whichever game isn't at 12pm gets the primetime slot.

The ABC primetime games will also shift to 7:30pm ET starts full time after using those start times for Big Ten telecasts only.

* FOX's advertising upfront presentation noted that their best games each week would be a noon ET instead of in primetime.  Its fair to say that ABC owned the space at 8pm and is established there and in mid-afternoon there's often the SEC game on CBS being the top game, with Notre Dame on NBC also placing well.  In any case, there's a bit of a splitting of the audiences.  Can't hurt FOX to try another time slot.

FOX offered noon ET or 1pm ET ten times in 2018 (nine Saturdays plus day after Thanksgiving).  Per SportsMediaWatch, FOX's highest rated game was that earliest game nine times.  The only times the first game was not their highest rated was Week 13 when Kansas-Oklahoma at 7:30pm beat Michigan St.-Nebraska at 12pm.

With FOX being a Pac-12 rightsholder, I assume that they'll either place their best game from the conference at 3:30pm  ET when possible.  As for the Big Ten title game, I would assume that remains a primetime affair.

* Yes, the surprise for me was to see the existence of the ACC RSN package when the ACC released their remaining early season start times.  The conference's communications department said it would be 17 football games, plus men's & women's basketball games, distributed across existing RSNs.  This package is a continuation of an existing agreement to give games to RSNs that would have extended into the 2026-27 athletic year, so it was not bought back.  The agreement ending that athletic year was the extension reached when Pittsburgh and Syracuse were added as members, so it was the extension prior to the one where the ACC Network's establishment was announced.

I'll be interested to see how those games' distribution across RSNs will occur.  FOX's control over the RSNs being bought by Sinclair will be coming to an end at some point.  I don't know if there will be tighter control over which RSNs receive these games.  Will it be the same wide open distribution that FOX was given over the RSNs it owned plus any RSNs covering ACC states? With FOX out of the picture could other RSNs buy these games?  Or could only ACC states' RSNs receive these games with digital coverage elsewhere.

* So why did the RSN package remain?  I don't know yet.  In 2019, there are 91 regular season controlled games from the conference.  Of that, the RSN package will take 17.  Let's assume the ACC Network takes 45 (14 weeks X 3 games, plus 3 weeknight games in weeks 1 & 2), leaving 29 games for ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

That seems a bit low, but ESPN and ESPN2 could have to give up one window a month to UFC for PPV prelims.  Either way, the number of games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 last year was 40.  So either ACC Network is going to be stocked up with games that would have otherwise appeared on those primary networks, or ACC Network isn't going to have three games a week.

* With the use of both ACC Network Extra & ACC RSNs, it appears that there won't be linear TV overflow channels for the network.

* Was also caught off guard by a pair of network designations & a date change:

  • Pittsburgh at Syracuse on ESPN on October 18th surprised me.  I was under the assumption that the game would be on ACC Network and ESPN would air Ohio St. at Northwestern.  I'm still working off the assumption that FS1 would have MLB postseason and FOX would be carrying WWE Smackdown, so maybe its possible that ABC will carry a Friday night football game.  Or I have a misplaced read on the MLB postseason schedule.
  • To further my misplaced assessment of the MLB postseason schedule, the start time  & network Virginia at Miami (FL) (8pm ET on ESPN) doesn't lend itself to being doubleheadered with Colorado at Oregon, also scheduled for that Friday night.  Assuming FOX has the same commitments to MLB and WWE, does the Pac-12 game air on ESPN2?  Pac-12 Networks?  Less certain it would air on ABC being a west coast game unless it starts earlier in the evening like the Pac-12 Championship will.
  • With North Carolina at Wake Forest moved to Friday night 9/13, Wake Forest will start the season with three consecutive Friday night games: vs. Utah St., at Rice, vs. UNC.  The 6pm start time could mean a doubleheader with Washington St. vs. Houston or for that game to air on ESPN2 instead.  Could also allow for the game at NRG Stadium to be moved to Thursday to give workers a chance to turn it over as Rice is hosting Texas there on Saturday night at 8pm ET.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

CFB TV Guesses (Take 2) on 2019 Weeks Two

Taking a 2nd crack at figuring out the Week Two CFB TV schedule.  What have we learned since late February?  A few things:
  • The Mountain West national TV schedule has been announced
  • One game has changed dates across this particular week
  • UFC 242 has been set for Saturday, September 7th.

Here's the original guesses

Friday
7pm ACCN: William & Mary at Virginia
8pm CBSSN: Wake Forest at Rice
9pm ESPN2: Marshall at Boise St. (confirmed)
10pm Pac-12: Sacramento St. at Arizona St.


Saturday

Still don't know whether the ACC Network will have alternate feeds for football games or not.  When reaching out to contacts who may know, they said those details were still being worked out.  


I'm assuming CBS continued its sublicense agreement with ESPN for a pair of SEC games.  North Carolina vs. South Carolina in Week One & Arkansas at Ole Miss this week.  In prior years, since these are sublicensed, ESPN can air SEC games concurrently on ESPN, ESPN2 and/or ESPNU during these two games.

Per multiple reports, UFC 242 is set for September 7th in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  Don't know if/how that affects when the fight schedule would be broadcast.  For those doing time zone math, 12pm ET = 8pm local time in the UAE, so for the time being I've cleared out the 12pm ESPN window for airing any PPV prelims.  ESPN would also carry the US Open women's final in mid-afternoon, so I don't have the channel carrying a game until 7pm ET.

The three Big 12 games on FS2 are not member retained games.  I just don't know where to place these without knowing when Sinclair will take over the formerly FOX owned RSNs.  I suppose the other platform FOX could use is Caffeine, the streaming platform they have invested in and are moving some Big East Digital Network to.  This particular weekend also has a FIFA international play break, so I think FS2 would be free from Bundesliga duty in the early afternoon.


12pm ABC: Syracuse at Maryland
12pm FOX: Army at Michigan
12pm ESPN2: Buffalo at Penn St.
12pm FS1: UTSA at Baylor
12pm ESPNU: Old Dominion at Virginia Tech
12pm SEC: West Virginia at Missouri
12pm SEC Alt: Murray St. at Georgia
12pm BTN: Western Michigan at Michigan St.
12pm CBSSN: UAB at Akron
12pm FS2: Coastal Carolina at Kansas
12:30pm ACCN: Ohio at Pittsburgh
2pm Pac-12: Nevada at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Cincinnati at Ohio St.
3:30pm CBS:  Arkansas at Ole Miss
3:30pm ESPN2: New Mexico St. at Alabama
3:30pm ESPNU: Illinois at Connecticut
3:30pm CBSSN: North Texas at SMU
3:30pm BTN: Rutgers at Iowa
3:30pm BTN: Eastern Illinois at Indiana
4pm FOX: LSU at Texas
4pm SEC: Eastern Michigan at Kentucky
4pm SEC Alt: Charleston Southern at South Carolina
4pm ACCN: Miami (FL) at North Carolina
4pm FS2: Bowling Green at Kansas St.
5pm Pac-12: San Diego St. at UCLA
5pm Pac-12 Washington: Northern Colorado at Washington St.
7pm ESPN: BYU at Tennessee
7pm ESPN2: USF at Georgia Tech
7pm CBSSN: UCF at FAU (time confirmed)
7pm Stadium: Western Kentucky at FIU (time confirmed)
7pm FOX PPV: South Dakota at Oklahoma
7:30pm ESPNU: Southern Miss at Mississippi St.
7:30pm SEC: Tulane at Auburn
7:30pm SEC Alt: UT Martin at Florida
7:30pm ACCN: UL-Monroe at Florida St.
7:30pm BTN: Vanderbilt at Purdue
7:30pm BTN: Central Michigan at Wisconsin
8pm ABC: Texas A&M at Clemson
8pm FOX: Stanford at USC
8pm Pac-12: Northern Illinois at Utah
8pm FS2: UTEP at Texas Tech
10pm ESPN: California at Washington
10pm FS1: Nebraska at Colorado
10:30pm CBSSN: Minnesota at Fresno St. (confirmed)
11pm Pac-12: Northern Arizona at Arizona
12am Spectrum PPV: Oregon St. at Hawai'i

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

CFB TV Guesses (Take 2) on 2019 Weeks Zero & One

Taking a 2nd crack at figuring out the Week Zero (really nothing to figure out here) and Week One CFB TV schedules.  What have we learned since late February?  Lots:
  • Houston at Oklahoma has moved to Sunday night
  • Miami (FL) vs. Florida has moved to Week Zero
  • The Mountain West national TV schedule has been announced
  • A handful of games have changed dates across this particular week

Week Zero

It is essentially finalized from a FBS perspective, provided someone doesn't pull some shenanigans and move a game.  Villanova at Colgate will also be slotted for national TV at some point (Stadium or CBSSN?).  The only sticking point I see in the schedule right now is the schedule of BIG3 basketball on CBSSN and whether that would be played on Saturday or Sunday.

Week One

Here's the deal: If the game isn't listed, assume it will be streamed by whatever the home conference's streaming arrangements are (ESPN3, ESPN+, Stadium online, etc.).  This now includes the member retained games for Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St. and Oklahoma St.

If you're curious about the two FS2 games, here's the deal: These two games are what I believe will be the member retained games for these two Big 12 schools as their content does not transfer over to ESPN+ until 2020.  I can't tell you what happens to those games because I don't know when operations for the former FOX RSNs will transfer over to Sinclair in 2019 as the sale does need regulatory approval.  The belief is the 3rd quarter.  I suppose the other platform FOX could use is Caffeine, the streaming platform they have invested in and are moving some Big East Digital Network to.

Thursday
7pm ESPN: UCLA at Cincinnati (network confirmed)
7:30pm ACCN: Georgia Tech at Clemson (network confirmed)
7:30pm SNY: Wagner at Connecticut
8pm CBS Sports Network: FIU at Tulane

8pm BTN: South Dakota St. at Minnesota
8:30pm SEC: Texas St. at Texas A&M (confirmed)
10:15pm ESPN: Utah at BYU
10:30pm Pac-12: Kent St. at Arizona St.

Friday
6pm CBSSN: Rice at Army (network confirmed, time guess based on MW confirmation)
7pm ESPN: Wisconsin at USF (network family confirmed)
7pm ACCN: Utah St. at Wake Forest
7:30pm BTN: Massachusetts at Rutgers
8pm FS1: Tulsa at Michigan St.
9pm Pac-12: Colorado St. vs. Colorado
9:30pm CBSSN: Purdue at Nevada (confirmed)
10:15pm ESPN: Oklahoma St. at Oregon St.

Saturday
12pm ABC: FAU at Ohio St.
12pm ESPN: Georgia St. at Tennessee
12pm ESPNU: Virginia at Pittsburgh
12pm SEC: Toledo at Kentucky
12pm BTN: Idaho at Penn St.
12:30pm ACCN: Virginia Tech at Boston College
1pm AT&T SN Pitt: James Madison at West Virginia
2pm Pac-12: Eastern Washington at Washington
3:30pm ABC: Duke vs. Alabama
3:30pm CBS: North Carolina vs. South Carolina
3:30pm FOX: Middle Tennessee at Michigan
3:30pm ESPN: 
Ole Miss at Memphis
3:30pm ESPNU: Akron at Illinois
3:30pm CBSSN: Holy Cross at Navy (network confirmed)
3:30pm BTN: Howard at Maryland
4pm ACCN: East Carolina at NC State
4pm SEC: Portland St. at Arkansas
4pm FS2: UAPB at TCU
5:30pm Pac-12: UC Davis at California
7pm ESPN: Georgia at Vanderbilt
7pm FS1: Northwestern at Stanford
7pm ESPNU: Mississippi St. vs. UL-Lafayette
7:30pm FOX: South Alabama at Nebraska
7:30pm ACCN: Boise St. vs. Florida St.
7:30pm SEC: Georgia Southern at LSU
7:30pm BTN: Miami (OH) at Iowa
7:30pm CBSSN: Missouri at Wyoming (confirmed)
8pm ABC: Oregon vs. Auburn
8pm Longhorn: Louisiana Tech at Texas
8pm FS2: Montana St. at Texas Tech 
8pm CyclonesTV: Northern Iowa at Iowa St.
9pm Pac-12: New Mexico St. at Washington St.
10:30pm ESPN: Fresno St. at USC

Sunday
12pm ESPN2: Jackson St. vs. Bethune-Cookman
7:30pm ABC: Houston at Oklahoma (confirmed)

Monday
8pm ESPN: Notre Dame at Louisville

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mid-April CFB TV 2019 Notes

* The Big 12 signed a deal with ESPN for three football conference championship games and eight schools pledged their member-retained content for ESPN+.  A couple things not covered in my original post on the topic:
  • The Big 12 didn't get the value in the market that they were expecting for the three football conference championship games.  The number quoted by Sports Business Journal was $40 million for the three games, or slightly north of $13 million per game.  FOX Sports ended their deal for paying around $20 million per game and the conference seemed to believe they would be able to get that number on the open market.  The conference previously said they had multiple suitors for the games, which would, in theory, create a bidding war for the content.
  • I'm curious who now makes the call as to which game is designated as a school's member retained football game.  FOX Sports had that option previously & if a school elected not to utilize their own platforms, the game had to be offered back to FOX Sports.  I suppose I could see FOX Sports continuing to dictate these choices as to not adversely affect the games available to their own Big 12 content package, but I would think that ESPN now has a greater say, or all of the say, in the matter.  Maybe it will end up being a joint decision by both networks with the conference or individual school having the final say.  Could it end up being a intraconference game?  The conference said this was a possibility several years ago, but I believe there had to be extenuating circumstances for this option.
  • For that member retained content, I have no idea how ESPN is paying that to the schools.  Each of these deals were previously negotiated with FOX or another media partner, so I don't know if those eight have agreed to pledge this content in return for a guaranteed minimum payout or some other formula is going to be applied to compensate the schools.
* NBC has set start times for their Notre Dame home games.

* Conference USA came out with a handful of start times for games, along with a few date changes.  This could end up being nearly the entire schedule of linear TV games on CBS Sports Network (all times Eastern).  Nine games are listed here and a tenth would need to be finalized
  • Friday 9/6 - Wake Forest at Rice, 8pm
  • Saturday 9/7 - UCF at FAU, 7pm
  • Saturday 9/14 - Texas vs. Rice, 8pm
    • The Mountain West only has games vs. FCS opponents that day.  East Carolina at Navy should be at 3:30pm ET.  Maybe another American Athletic Conference game at 12pm ET.
  • Friday 9/20 - FIU at Louisiana Tech, 8pm
  • Friday 10/18 - Marshall at FAU, 6:30pm
    • Look for a potential doubleheader with the Mountain West.  Nevada at Utah St. could be scheduled for 10pm ET based on Marshall at FAU's start time
  • Friday 11/15 - Louisiana Tech at Marshall, 7pm
    • The Jamaica Classic is moving to a week later in the college basketball schedule, so it would not clash with this game's date
  • Saturday 11/23 - Miami vs. FIU, 7pm
  • Saturday 11/30 - FIU at Marshall, 12pm
  • Saturday 12/7 - Conference USA Championship, 1:30pm
Two of the three CBS produced Facebook games could be Cincinnati at Marshall (9/28, 5pm) & Marshall at Middle Tennessee (10/5, 3:30pm) based on the start times & other potential CBS Sports Network conflicts.

* One last item on Conference USA.  They came out with their season preview, basically a spring prospectus (not a media guide), and beIN Sports was absent from the list of TV partners.  At the moment, I take their absence as being a strong signal that they will not be returning as a C-USA television partner.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Quick Note on Big 12 content deal for ESPN+

Breaking my own rule regarding taking April off, but I saw some comments on the Big 12 ESPN+ deal that I think will need clarification by the schools.

Per Sports Business Journal, the Big 12 and ESPN have completed an agreement for three Big 12 football championship games that would have been attached to FOX Sports (2019, 2021 and 2023).   FOX Sports still is maintaining its presence televising regular season football, women's basketball and other events not covered by the existing deal that ESPN has with the conference.

The other part of the deal involves content that the schools have retained outside of agreements with ESPN and FOX Sports.  Each school gets to keep a group of events to monetize for themselves, which includes a football game, some men's & women's basketball, baseball, softball and other sports.  Sometimes they're called third tier agreements, sometimes they are notated as member retained content.  Much of this content aired regionally, and sometimes nationally if the school was contracted to FOX Sports RSNs:
  • Baylor: FOX Sports
  • Iowa St: Cyclones.TV from Mediacom
  • Kansas: Jayhawk TV Network (distributed to linear TV stations & ESPN+)
  • Kansas St.: K-State HD TV (distributed to FOX Sports MW & ESPN3)
  • Oklahoma: FOX Sports
  • Oklahoma St.: FOX Sports
  • TCU: FOX Sports
  • Texas: Longhorn Network
  • Texas Tech: FOX Sports
  • West Virginia: Nexstar (distributed through AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh)
My initial thought is that the sale of the FOX Sports RSNs allowed for this mostly encompassing deal for this member retained content, while Texas will remain on Longhorn Network and Oklahoma (may?) stay with FOX Sports.

What I didn't see in this post from SBJ is whether the content will remain regionally distributed for the eight schools via linear TV and also through ESPN+ or if ESPN+ will become the exclusive distribution outlet for this content.  Hopefully that will be clarified.  I would think that since Texas maintains its linear TV presence, the other schools could be allowed to maintain theirs or continue to strike local TV deals for the content while maintaining the ESPN+ "outermarket" presence.  This would also allow for those who don't get content from a RSN affiliated with FOX Sports to be able to get this content on a regular basis.

EDIT: ESPN release says this content will be exclusive to ESPN+.  One way to look at this as a positive is that some schools didn't have a good way to get access to this content outside of their region or state.  Here's the ESPN release.

EDIT: Oklahoma's content deal with FOX Sports is a longer term deal than the other schools' deals.  It runs through 2022, so if it were to join up with other Big 12 schools in this venture, it would be at that time and not over the two year "phase-in" that is occuring for the eight schools pledging their content.

Also, Iowa St. spelled out exactly what will occur with their Cyclones.TV channel.  Live games will go to ESPN+, but the channel can continue to show press conferences and replays of live events.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A few notes on new American Athletic Conference rights agreement

A quick comparison of the number of games each season vs. the new minimums announced in the new 12 year agreement with ESPN.

Football

The conference championship game is not counted in this table below.


So the new minimum of 40 games across the four primary networks is more than each of the previous five seasons.  The even numbered seasons also had games where Navy "hosted" Notre Dame, so you could add one more to each year, then take one more Navy home game to each season started with 2015 (2014 didn't have Navy nor a conference championship game) to get a more true apples to apples comparison.

With that said, if you add in the CBS Sports Network games of around 14 games per season, you'll likely get close to the planned minimum in at least 2015 & 2016.  2017 & 2018 would be well above the minimum.  In my opinion, this is where the American would be taking advantage of some ACC content moving over to the new ACC Network.

Men's Basketball

The conference tournament games are not counted in this table below.



The first thing I would caution is that the 2018-19 season had one more week available for games to be played compared to the other four years.  Also, Wichita St. joined for the 2017-18 athletic year, which gave the conference more available games for television.

CBS Sports Network received 30 games per season via sublicense.  The minimum increasing will help out a little, but ESPN+ is more likely to be the platform receiving the bump in content as I don't see those 30 games being added to both ESPNU and ESPNEWS.

Networks in use

ESPN+ was added as a platform, but ESPNEWS, ESPN3 and CBS Sports Network were not mentioned.  I get the feeling from the language of the release that CBS Sports Network could be out, though it is not confirmed by anyone with knowledge of any of the agreements.  ESPN3 and ESPNEWS weren't mentioned either with the exception of the "About ESPN" section, so I don't know the status of using those two linear TV channels.  If anything, one could make a reasonable leap that the ESPNEWS content could be what ends up adding to the new contract minimums, and the content that was on ESPN3, CBSSN and some schools' streaming packages become the ESPN+ package.  ESPNEWS carried six football games in 2018 and 15 men's basketball games in the 2018-19 regular season.

I should also mention that ESPN allows conferences like the Ivy League, SoCon and others to regionally televise ESPN+ games, unless schools were counseled not to sign new regional television deals, such as the deal UConn has with SNY.

EDIT: A transcript of the media call announcing the agreement has details that sublicensing could continue and that ESPN would need to sit down with relevant parties to gauge their interest in continuing these arrangements.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Guess At The Remaining Thursday & Friday Night CFB Schedules for 2019

Thursdays

ESPN (main channel) has mostly set its Thursday night schedule with the ACC & American taking up nearly every Thursday night, but there are some holes.  The holes happen to already have available games for those dates

8/29: UCLA at Cincinnati
9/5: No game (US Open tennis)
9/12: North Carolina at Wake Forest
9/19: Houston at Tulane
9/26: Navy at Memphis
10/3: Temple at East Carolina
10/10: Syracuse at NC State
10/17: No game yet
10/24: SMU at Houston
10/31: No game yet
11/7: Temple at USF
11/14: North Carolina at Pittsburgh
11/21: NC State at Georgia Tech
11/28: No game yet

Here's what I think ESPN will end up for a schedule, with additions in red.


8/29: UCLA at Cincinnati & Utah at BYU

9/5: No game (US Open tennis)
9/12: North Carolina at Wake Forest
9/19: Houston at Tulane
9/26: Navy at Memphis
10/3: Temple at East Carolina
10/10: Syracuse at NC State
10/17: UCLA at Stanford
10/24: SMU at Houston
10/31: West Virginia at Baylor
11/7: Temple at USF
11/14: North Carolina at Pittsburgh
11/21: NC State at Georgia Tech
11/28: Ole Miss at Mississippi St.

C-USA and the Mountain West hasn't yet set its weeknight schedule, which would primarily impact CBS Sports Network.  For the games currently set for Thursdays not included here & not set for television, here's where I think they'll end up:


8/29
ESPN3/+: South Carolina St. at UCF (if it remains on Thursday night), three MAC games, Alabama St. at UAB, Wagner at UConn (also probably on SNY)
CBS Sports Network: FIU at Tulane
BTN: South Dakota St. at Minnesota
MW Network: Northern Colorado at San Jose St.
Pac-12: Kent St. at Arizona St.

Fridays

Fridays should have more variance when it comes to networks.  I think you'll see the ACC Network involved for a few Fridays along with FS1 & CBSSN.


I decided to go with a table to cover all the potential networks.  Anything in red is a guess for either the network or possibly the game itself.  You'll need to click on the image to read it likely.

I left Black Friday off the table (day after Thanksgiving).  Keep reading for that.


Back to Black Friday, here's how I think it will go (not necessarily in the order of the games being played):

ABC: One American Athletic game, one ACC game
CBS: Missouri at Arkansas
FOX: One Pac-12 game, Iowa at Nebraska
ESPN: One Big 12 game
FS1: One Pac-12 game, one Big 12 game
ESPNU: One MAC game
CBSSN: One American Athletic game, one MAC game

Friday, March 8, 2019

A passing thought or two on WarnerMedia: Why not the Mountain West?

I want to make sure off the top that you, the reader, know that there's no informed, behind the scenes thought behind this topic.

So the wheels are turning at WarnerMedia at the executive level & my first thoughts about regular season collegiate content they could acquire stopped at one place where they have a foot in the door regionally: The Mountain West, whose rights agreements with CBS Sports & ESPN expire at the end of the 2019-20 athletic year.  The conference has had a small package of football & men's basketball games on the AT&T Sports RSNs for several years.

This got me to thinking that this could be a worthwhile partnership. The Mountain West hasn't been thrilled about some of the slotting of their games, specifically in the areas of start times. Meanwhile, the linear TV channels of TNT, TBS and TruTV have a decently open canvas on weekends for live sports.  I believe the channels also have enough subscribers to support any requirements Boise St. home football games would have as they have a slightly separate deal for themselves.

Beyond those linear channels, B/R Live has gained traction through their coverage of UEFA championships, limited live NBA games, a small set of AAF games & other niche properties. The platform did have the failure of the PPV purchasing system for the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson golf event, but the stream seemed to hold up.  The conference has experimented with current partner Stadium for events on Facebook when linear TV wasn't an option. I realize the "free vs. pay" option is another hurdle, but it has gained a level of acceptance.

Regional games on AT&T Sports & Spectrum Sports PPV could stay & use B/R Live out of market, assuming there is some location services component to protect the in-market rights.  Maybe leverage Audience Network for some additional carriage of those games on DirecTV & AT&T UVerse or partner up with AT&T's telecom resources.

One quote that got to me and also leads me to believe that WarnerMedia wouldn't need to be the sole distributor of this content comes from the head of WarnerMedia, John Stankey.  While he was talking about entertainment content, I see no reason that it couldn't apply to sports as well:
...Well, look, we invest as much in WarnerMedia as Netflix does every year. In some cases we keep it for ourselves and in some cases we license it to them. Our ability to build content of scale and quality is really second-to-none in terms of an in-house production capability. And now Bob will make the decision about how much we should hold on our own platforms and how much we should license to third-party distributors....
There's no reason to believe that they couldn't seek out other distribution partners while maintaining control of rights.

Would like to hear your thoughts.

Friday, February 22, 2019

2019 Week 3 Early Season CFB TV Guesses

So I couldn't think of any major conflicts for sports events that ESPN or FOX.  No MLB for FOX to carry as they'll carry MLB on their broadcast network on Thursday nights for a couple weeks in September, probably two weeks where NFL Network exclusively carries Thursday night NFL games if you want to track that against other sports.

Here's the deal: If the game isn't listed, assume it will be streamed by whatever the home conference's streaming arrangements are (ESPN3, ESPN+, Stadium online, etc.)

Friday
7pm ACCN: Kansas at Boston College
8pm ESPN: Washington St. vs. Houston

Saturday
12pm ABC: Stanford at UCF
12pm FOX: Pittsburgh at Penn St.
12pm ESPN: Kansas St. at Mississippi St.
12pm ESPN2: Florida St. at Virginia
12pm FS1: Iowa at Iowa St.
12pm ESPNU: Miami (OH) at Cincinnati
12pm SEC: Colorado St. at Arkansas
12pm SEC Alt: Chattanooga at Tennessee
12pm BTN: UNLV at Northwestern
12pm CBSSN: Maryland at Temple
12:30pm ACCN: Bethune-Cookman at Miami (FL)
2pm Pac-12: Idaho St. at Utah
3:30pm ABC: Oklahoma at UCLA
3:30pm CBS: Florida at Kentucky
3:30pm NBC: New Mexico at Notre Dame
3:30pm ESPN: TCU at Purdue
3:30pm ESPN2: USC at BYU
3:30pm FS1: Air Force at Colorado
3:30pm ESPNU: Oklahoma St. at Tulsa
3:30pm BTN: Georgia Southern at Minnesota
3:30pm CBSSN: East Carolina at Navy (network confirmed)
4pm FOX: Arizona St. at Michigan St.
4pm SEC: Southeast Missouri at Missouri
4pm SEC Alt: Southeastern Louisiana at Ole Miss
4pm ACCN: The Citadel at Georgia Tech
4pm Stadium: Duke at Middle Tennessee
5pm CBS Sports Facebook: Louisville vs. Western Kentucky
5pm Pac-12: Montana at Oregon
7pm ESPN: Alabama at South Carolina
7pm ESPN2: Arkansas St. at Georgia
7pm FS1: NC State at West Virginia
7pm ESPNU: Northwestern St. at LSU
7:30pm ABC: Ohio St. at Indiana
7:30pm FOX: Hawai'i at Washington
7:30pm SEC: Kent St. at Auburn
7:30pm SEC Alt: Lamar at Texas A&M
7:30pm BTN: Eastern Michigan at Illinois
7:30pm BTN: Northern Illinois at Nebraska
7:30pm CBSSN: Texas vs. Rice
7:30pm ACCN: Clemson at Syracuse
8pm Pac-12: North Texas at California
10:15pm ESPNU: Portland St. at Boise St.
10:30pm ESPN: Texas Tech at Arizona
11pm Pac-12: Cal Poly at Oregon St.

2019 Week 2 Early Season CFB TV Guesses

Known items for other sports that week
  • ESPN will have US Open tennis Thursday & Friday night, plus Saturday afternoon covering the women's championship match in mid-afternoon.
  • FS1 has two MLB games at 4pm & 7pm ET.  
  • The opening night of the NFL season is Thursday night and there's been virtually no major CFB competing against that game for a few years.
Unknown
  • It is unknown whether FOX broadcast network has any MLB commitments on this Saturday.  None are currently listed, but I don't know if this is a week where FOX can select a game on about ten days notice.
  • Don't know when UFC would have it's September PPV and the channel for those prelims. Didn't account for a PPV this week.
Friday
7pm ACCN: William & Mary at Virginia
9pm ESPN2: Marshall at Boise St.
10pm Pac-12: Sacramento St. at Arizona St.

I moved Marshall at Boise St. over here based on what has already (not) been moved.  The Mountain West's weeknight schedule comes out in early April and a limited number of Boise St. games can move.  With ESPN being the rightsholder for Boise St. home games, to me, this seems like a logical fit.

EDIT (2/22/19): To account for the possibility of UFC PPV prelims on ESPN, I made the following changes:
  • West Virginia at Missouri was moved from 9pm ESPN to 12pm SEC Network
  • Murray St. at Georgia stays at 12pm, but moves to SEC Network Alternate
  • BYU at Tennessee moves from 6pm ESPN to 7pm ESPN2
  • San Diego St. at UCLA moves from 7pm ESPN2 to 5pm Pac-12 Networks
  • Northern Colorado at Washington St. stays at 5pm, but is only shown on linear TV on Pac-12 Networks' Washington.
  • California at Washington moved up 30 minutes from 10:30pm to 10pm and moves from ESPN2 to ESPN.
Here's the deal: If the game isn't listed, assume it will be streamed by whatever the home conference's streaming arrangements are (ESPN3, ESPN+, Stadium online, etc.)

Saturday
12pm ABC: Syracuse at Maryland
12pm FOX: Army at Michigan
12pm ESPN: Buffalo at Penn St.
12pm ESPN2: USF at Georgia Tech
12pm FS1: UTSA at Baylor
12pm ESPNU: Old Dominion at Virginia Tech
12pm SEC: West Virginia at Missouri
12pm SEC Alt: Murray St. at Georgia
12pm BTN: Western Michigan at Michigan St.
12pm CBSSN: UCF at FAU
12pm FSN: Coastal Carolina at Kansas
12:30pm ACCN: Ohio at Pittsburgh
2pm Pac-12: Nevada at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Cincinnati at Ohio St.
3:30pm CBS:  Arkansas at Ole Miss
3:30pm ESPN2: New Mexico St. at Alabama
3:30pm ESPNU: Illinois at Connecticut
3:30pm CBSSN: Wake Forest at Rice
3:30pm BTN: Rutgers at Iowa
3:30pm BTN: Eastern Illinois at Indiana
4pm FOX: LSU at Texas
4pm SEC: Eastern Michigan at Kentucky
4pm SEC Alt: Charleston Southern at South Carolina
4pm ACCN: Miami (FL) at North Carolina
4pm FSN: Bowling Green at Kansas St.
5pm Pac-12: San Diego St. at UCLA
5pm Pac-12 Washington: Northern Colorado at Washington St.
7pm ESPN2: BYU at Tennessee
7pm CBSSN: Minnesota at Fresno St.
7pm FOX PPV: South Dakota at Oklahoma
7:30pm ESPNU: Southern Miss at Mississippi St.
7:30pm SEC: Tulane at Auburn
7:30pm SEC Alt: UT Martin at Florida
7:30pm ACCN: UL-Monroe at Florida St.
7:30pm BTN: Vanderbilt at Purdue
7:30pm BTN: Central Michigan at Wisconsin
7:30pm Stadium: Western Kentucky at FIU
8pm ABC: Texas A&M at Clemson
8pm FOX: Stanford at USC
8pm Pac-12: Northern Illinois at Utah
8pm FSN: McNeese at Oklahoma St.
8pm FS2: UTEP at Texas Tech
10pm ESPN: California at Washington
10pm FS1: Nebraska at Colorado
10:30pm CBSSN: Oregon St. at Hawai'i
11pm Pac-12: Northern Arizona at Arizona

So what I don't know is whether the ACC Network will have alternate feeds for football games or not.  My assumption right now is that they will not because they allowed for streaming of games previously compared to the SEC, who did not.

2019 Week 1 Early Season CFB TV Guesses

Weeks 2 & 3 will be out in the near future. There will be game date adjustments throughout the spring. Do not take these as set in stone. Final TV announcements will happen in May & June.

Known items for other sports that week
  • ESPN2 has US Open tennis all day on Saturday and should have it on Thursday & Friday nights.
  • FS1 has a MLB game at 4pm ET.  The Phillies originally listed the game at 6pm ET but it has been adjusted per the MLB website.  No MLB games will air on FOX's broadcast network.
  • No FIFA match window except for Labor Day.
  • FOX has a Premier Boxing Champions card on Sunday.  Time of the card is not known.
  • From work by FBSchedules.com requesting the game contract, the Miami vs. Florida game will start no earlier than 6pm Eastern.
  • MAC games appear to remain available to air on CBS Sports Network as a couple games were scheduled to air there when the conference's schedule was announced.
Unknown at this time
  • No football games have yet been moved to Sunday evening.  No game has been set aside for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, but I expect one to be.  Certainly possible for a game to air on ABC on Sunday night.
  • Is CBS still sublicensing two SEC games from ESPN?  My assumption is that another agreement will be made.  Even if the games coming from ESPN to CBS aren't the top choice like they are for the weeks CBS owns their own selections, they still end up with quality games.
Week Zero

Saturday 8/24 
Midnight CBSSN: Arizona at Hawai'i

*Midnight = 6pm HT on 8/24. 

Week One

Here's the deal: If the game isn't listed, assume it will be streamed by whatever the home conference's streaming arrangements are (ESPN3, ESPN+, Stadium online, etc.)

Thursday
7pm ESPN: UCLA at Cincinnati (network confirmed)
7:30pm ACCN: Georgia Tech at Clemson (network confirmed)
7:30pm SNY: Wagner at Connecticut
8pm CBS Sports Network: FIU at Tulane
10:15pm ESPN: Utah at BYU
10:30pm Pac-12: Kent St. at Arizona St.

Friday
7pm ESPN: Wisconsin at USF (network family confirmed)
7pm CBSSN: Rice at Army (network confirmed)
7pm ACCN: Utah St. at Wake Forest
7:30pm BTN: Massachusetts at Rutgers
8pm FS1: Tulsa at Michigan St.
9pm Pac-12: Colorado St. vs. Colorado
10:15pm ESPN: Oklahoma St. at Oregon St.

Saturday
12pm ABC: FAU at Ohio St.
12pm ESPN: Georgia St. at Tennessee
12pm FS1: South Alabama at Nebraska
12pm ESPNU: Virginia at Pittsburgh
12pm SEC: Toledo at Kentucky
12pm BTN: Idaho at Penn St.
12pm FSN: UAPB at TCU
12:30pm ACCN: Virginia Tech at Boston College
1pm AT&T SN Pitt: James Madison at West Virginia
2pm Pac-12: Eastern Washington at Washington
3:30pm ABC: Duke vs. Alabama
3:30pm CBS: North Carolina vs. South Carolina
3:30pm FOX: Middle Tennessee at Michigan
3:30pm ESPN: Georgia at Vanderbilt
3:30pm ESPNU: Akron at Illinois
3:30pm CBSSN: Holy Cross at Navy (network confirmed)
3:30pm BTN: Howard at Maryland
4pm ACCN: East Carolina at NC State
4pm SEC: Portland St. at Arkansas
4pm FSN: Stephen F. Austin at Baylor
5:30pm Pac-12: UC Davis at California
7pm ESPN: Miami (FL) vs. Florida
7pm FS1: Northwestern at Stanford
7pm ESPNU: Georgia Southern at LSU
7pm CBSSN: Ole Miss at Memphis
7pm JayhawkTV: Indiana St. at Kansas
7pm KStateHD.TV/ESPN3: Nicholls at Kansas St.
7:30pm FOX: Houston at Oklahoma
7:30pm ACCN: Boise St. vs. Florida St.
7:30pm SEC: Texas St. at Texas A&M
7:30pm BTN: Miami (OH) at Iowa
8pm ABC: Oregon vs. Auburn
8pm Longhorn: Louisiana Tech at Texas
8pm FSN: Montana St. at Texas Tech
8pm CyclonesTV: Northern Iowa at Iowa St.
9pm Pac-12: New Mexico St. at Washington St.
10:15pm ESPNU: Missouri at Wyoming
10:30pm CBSSN: Purdue at Nevada
10:30pm ESPN: Fresno St. at USC

Sunday
12pm ESPN2: Jackson St. vs. Bethune-Cookman

Monday
8pm ESPN: Notre Dame at Louisville

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Quick Notes on Weeknight 2019 ACC Football Games & Other Topics

* It was previously announced that the Clemson at Georgia Tech game would lead off the ACC Network football schedule.  For the other Friday night games, I do wonder if the ACC Network will show a few of them instead of airing them on ESPN or ESPN2.

If ACC Network does carry any Friday night games, candidates for that network could be Utah St. at Wake Forest on August 30th, William & Mary at Virginia on September 7th and Pittsburgh at Syracuse on October 18th.  The reason for including the last game is because of my belief that Ohio St. at Northwestern would be on ESPN on that evening as FS1 would be in the middle of their MLB postseason coverage and FOX has WWE programming.

Once the American's schedule is released, this could become clearer.

The other Friday night game that may have had its network accounted for is Penn St. at Maryland on September 27th.  FS1 has aired a Friday night Big Ten game in late September each of the past two seasons and this assumes that the Duke at Virginia Tech game, scheduled for the same evening, airs on ESPN.

* There's something up with Eleven Sports, the smaller sports network that took over the placement of One World Sports in the US a few years ago.  Eleven is the rightsholder for UMass athletics (primary for some sports like football, secondary for men's basketball) along with Big Sky & Southland conferences.  They also simulcast AggieVision telecasts from New Mexico St.

Over the past month, Eleven has been slowly cancelling men's basketball productions from the Big Sky and Southland on a rolling two week basis.  Last week, UMass announced that the remaining productions that were scheduled to air on Eleven Sports, with regional coverage in New England on NESN, would shift exclusively to NESN.
There's plenty of coverage of Eleven's international carriage issues & loss of rights.  CNBC has info on losing exclusive UFC rights in the UK and have been vocal about the possibility of pirated content with respect to the Italian Super Cup.

My own experience with Eleven has not been fruitful in terms of getting any questions answered about the channel, so whatever you see online is no different that what I end up finding online.  The long term prospects of the channel don't seem positive though.

* As first reported by Sports Business Journal, the Big 12 football championship will not be carried by FOX this year or future odd numbered years.  I wrote a short piece on it earlier this week & encourage you to seek out SBJ's work on the subject.

* The MEAC has reached an agreement with FloSports to carry several sports, including a handful of men's basketball games plus their conference basketball tournament, except for the championship game on ESPN's linear TV platforms.  In prior seasons, ESPN3 carried the conference tournament games that FloSports is picking up.

* Two more items:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Big 12 Football Championship Game Rights Leaving FOX Sports

Sports Business Journal reported this morning that FOX Sports had given up their rights to the Big 12 football championship games, not just in future odd numbered seasons, but this coming season (2019).  The publication's First Look podcast noted two items were in play:

1) The cost of the game to FOX, reported to be in the $20 million range, didn't justify the return FOX could get for carrying the game. EDIT: a separate SBJ piece for their Daily publication notes that FOX gained the rights to the 2017 game only through mediation involving conference expansion that didn't occur.

2) Scheduling.  I'll go into this one in further details.

So let's handle this Q&A style:

What are the scheduling concerns that I see?

When the game came on the market and was listed as rotating between ESPN and FOX, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby mentioned several times that Friday night was a potential time slot for the game, subject to AT&T Stadium availability.  Go figure, the Cowboys playing Thursday night games at home the Thursday after Thanksgiving, the day before a Friday championship game (a week after Black Friday), may have cut into that stadium availability.  Sports Business Journal mentioned Friday was a non-starter in their podcast, but that's incorrect based on the history of trying to set the 2017 date.

Another hit to the possibility of a Friday night game on FOX is the start of WWE Smackdown in 2019.  Assuming FOX is hooked to airing Smackdown only on the broadcast network, that would leave FS1 as your broadcast outlet, which might have been less palatable to the conference.

(And yes, that could be a concern for the Pac-12 in future years, though if they aren't concerned about TV ratings & want better attendance, Saturday might be ideal)

So we keep it anchored to Saturday with FOX, who has the Big Ten championship on their broadcast network in primetime through 2022, so the Big 12 is locked out of a nighttime game unless its FS1.  Play alongside the SEC championship in the afternoon?  Seems like a losing proposition compared to 12pm ET, which I know fans of the conference dislike.

Financials didn't work for FOX?

I guess not.  Without parroting everything from the First Look podcast linked in the first paragraph, FOX sought to have their payout decreased, maybe in exchange for guaranteeing the early afternoon slot on the broadcast network or for the game to air on FS1 at night (I know neither of these things to be factual, so take those with a grain of salt).  It sounds like the minimum the Big 12 would take for a rights fee was still too much for FOX to pay.

The 2017 game had a 3.8 rating for FOX (Oklahoma vs. TCU).  It had a 6.2 for Texas vs. Oklahoma, and maybe FOX looks at that as a barometer for what the game can get on its best matchup & everything else being less than that for the cost it pays.

Both ratings numbers came from Sports Media Watch.

Where's the game going to air?

ESPN was the leader per Sports Business Journal.  I tend to believe that & the rights in even numbered years already reside here too.  They can play around with putting it in primetime at the same time as the ACC championship, flexing both games based on the matchup to air on ESPN or ABC.  This used to happen with the Big 12 when they had regular season games up against the ACC championship.  Compared to the perceptions of a game moving from FOX to FS1, a game moving between ABC & ESPN has a less negative perception.  That option could end up relegating the Mountain West over to ESPN2 for the final championship game of their current agreement.

If ESPN elects to stay with their current agreement & not add these games, maybe CBS would enter the picture, but I'm not picturing that scenario.

What's FOX going to air that Saturday?

College basketball seems likely.  They had around 400K-700K viewers for a tripleheader of Big East & Pac-12 games this year per ShowBuzzDaily.  That's a time of the year where they now schedule the opening of Big Ten intraconference play, so maybe they can get a matchup for the broadcast network like they did in 2017 with Ohio St. vs. Wisconsin before the conference's football championship game.  That one got over a million viewers.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019 College Football Scheduling Notes

* So far, only Arizona at Hawai'i is scheduled for "Week 0".  And since 12 games can be played over 14 weeks this year, the need for "Week 0" is greatly diminished.  That said, the following FBS schools could end up moving a game to "Week 0" and/or adding a 13th game:

Oregon St.
Army
Air Force
Fresno St.
San Diego St.
San Jose St.

The game being moved does not have to be a home game for these schools.  In my opinion, Army is the least likely to make any moves since their schedule already stretches over 16 weeks when the Army-Navy game is accounted for.

* Ohio St. at Northwestern was moved to a Friday, October 18, 2019 and in my opinion, that one will be an ESPN televised game for a couple reasons:
  1. It is right in the middle of FOX's MLB postseason coverage.  It would fall right around the Game 6-7 area of the American League Division Services, which should be on FS1.
  2. FOX broadcast network will be on its 3rd week of airing of WWE Smackdown, which starts at the beginning of October. 
It gives ESPN a nice game with a flagship college football school to counterprogram with.  If you look closer at that week, you'll see that both the Big 12 (TCU at Kansas St.) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford) have Thursday night games that week.  Both conferences have a full compliment of games on Saturday 10/19 too.  Don't know if that means ESPN is going to take all three games that week because they'll have several selections from those conferences & FOX could be limited in the number of TV windows.

Penn St. at Maryland (9/27) and Iowa at Nebraska (11/29, Black Friday) are the other intraconference Big Ten games being played on a weekday/weeknight.  South Dakota St. at Minnesota, Tulsa at Michigan St. & UMass at Rutgers are being played on weeknights as well.

* The ACC Network received a pair of selections to start 2019, with Georgia Tech at Clemson on Thursday 8/29 and Notre Dame at Duke on Saturday 11/9.  For those who avidly pay attention to TV ratings of sporting events, the ACC Network might fall into the same camp as the SEC Network, which is not rated nationally by Nielsen.

* Interesting conundrum for CBS for the upcoming season with the choice of their primetime CBS game.  Will it be on 9/21, where Notre Dame at Georgia is an option, or will they stay with the Saturday that LSU at Alabama falls (11/9)?  I feel the setup is better for a doubleheader on 9/21 with five SEC intraconference games plus Notre Dame at Georgia, where 11/9 has only three SEC games plus LSU at Alabama.

* The following agreements, either rights or sublicenses, ended at the end of the 2018 regular season and I'm not aware of any continuation of these agreements at this time:
  • MAC on CBS Sports Network
    • Twelve games sublicensed from ESPN
  • Conference USA on beIN Sports
  • ESPN sublicense of SEC games to CBS
    • Two game sublicense from ESPN.  
    • Existing rights for SEC on CBS is a separate deal.
* The following rights agreements expire after the 2019 season:
* FOX has swapped its UFC commitments in exchange for Premier Boxing Champions events, with potentially less conflicts.  Two Saturdays will have FS1 cards: 9/21 & 11/9.  Both dates happen to have a Pac-12 game scheduled for the Friday night before.  Sunday 9/1 also has a PBC card scheduled for FOX.  It isn't known if the card is in the afternoon or evening (we don't really know anything about the time of day about any of the cards), so FOX could still request a game for the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

One other FOX Sports commitment, besides MLB which will shape the September schedule & we'll know more about in the next 6-10 weeks, is they should have coverage of the Walker Cup on one of their platforms.  The event is in England in 2019, so some of the coverage would be outside of the coverage time of college football, but there could be some overlap in the early afternoon.  In 2017, FS1 carried the event in the early afternoon & early evening hours, leaving one college football game to air on FS2. (EDIT: Walker Cup 2019, since it is R&A hosted, has its rights with NBC).

* MLB has released FOX & FS1 static windows (ie. the ones where they select a game in advance).  8/31 has one game at 6pm & 9/7 has a pair of games after 4pm.

* ESPN, on the other hand, has scheduled three four (EDIT:  Q1 release table has ESPN+ for 3/30 but paragraphs identify it as ESPN) of its ten linear TV UFC Fight Night over the first six months of 2019 (Q1 & Q2).  They might pack more of those Fight Night cards into Q3, specifically July & August, but in September-November I would think they would have some PPV prelims plus 1-2 Fight Night cards with more ESPN+ cards in the fall.  Would assume the same applies to any Top Rank commitments ESPN would have over the final six months.  For those events it will be interesting to see how they schedule games around these multi-hour event slots.