Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Brain Dump on Upcoming TV Rights & Realignment

Consider this an interactive column/post. I just jotted down what I've been able to pick up from various articles/sources regarding upcoming TV changes due to realignment. If you know of something else and can point me to a valid source or call BS on something I've written, leave a comment. I'll do my best to back up what I've written, but if I can't I'll let you know. There is some opinion/conjecture sprinkled in here, so don't be afraid to leave an opinion. Here we go:

Big Ten
  • Nebraska is the addition
  • Championship game, currently bid separate from rest of regular season
  • Divisions and future schedules in football have been announced
  • Likely an additional game slot each week, from 5 to 6
  • Current contract allows for exclusivity for ABC in their slot. Has been waived when needed (OSU-Michigan saturday when ABC does a 2nd game at 3:30pm)
  • Nebraska has hosted three November night games since '02. Two in '09
  • Conference has not done Thursday night games. Unsure if schools will be open to that.
  • Conference schedule remains at 8 games per team, 48 conference matchups
  • Assumption is that there will be alteration to scheduling for MBK and that the conference tournament will now have four 1st round games.

Big 12

  • Loss of Colorado and Nebraska
  • ABC and FSN have guaranteed to not decrease existing rights fees and appear to agree to allow existing contracts to expire before altering TV rights
  • Conference made deal w/TV partner to go to nine conference games to retain value. Basketball will go to round-robin, home-home schedule. Schedule rotations for 2011 and future seasons have been released.
  • FSN may have promised that Big 12 could have future rights fees that rival Big Ten and SEC
  • Schools will be able to pursue networks for rights not taken by ABC & FSN and conference may consider the same
  • Big 12 may be able to reopen all rights agreements if it does a conference network
  • Texas may be close to aligning with Fox Sports on a network per Sports Business Journal
  • For men's basketball, new formation has been praised. Conference will likely change tournament format to a pair of first round matchups.


  • Utah and Colorado additions
  • Championship game, unknown if bid separate from rest of regular season
  • Conference more creative in scheduling, conference games happen at any point in season
  • Schedule becomes more compressed, typically Pac-10 schedules regular season games through championship Saturday
  • TV windows are currently exclusive, but ABC/ESPN seems to have much more leeway compared to prior years with more windows on ESPN and coexist with FSN in some windows
  • Contracts do not appear to be renegotiated based on membership changes as contracts will expire at current date of 2012
  • Pac-12 intends to continue with nine conference games per release of Utah's 2011 OOC schedule
  • For men's basketball, full round-robin will be abandoned. All teams are expected to play each other, but some matchups will occur only once a year.
  • Divisions are close to being finalized along with scheduling rotations. Some discussion regarding goal of everyone playing in California (in some cases, Los Angeles) as much as possible.


  • Boise addition in 2011, BYU & Utah leaving
  • Unknown status of Nevada and Fresno St. membership leaves 2011 currently at eight members
  • W/eight members, 28 conference games. Loss of eight conference games
  • CBSC is primary rights holder
  • Comcast owns stake in mtn. and receives sublicensed games from CBSC. May consider selling stake in mtn. due to loss of Utah/SLC market per Sports Business Journal
  • When Boise was added, comissioner intended to request for increase in rights. With loss of BYU and Utah, may have to accept no increase, possible decrease
  • Most MWC teams are in holding pattern w/2011 schedules. Will they need to do 5 OOC games for a season?


  • Loss of Boise St. in 2011, Nevada & Fresno in 2012
  • Commissioner has admitted there could be a decrease in rights fee and appearances within ESPN contract
  • Boise St., Fresno St. and Nevada have appeared in vast majority of WAC games contracted to ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 since 2004. Very few WAC games on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 did not include those three teams.
  • Take out Hawai'i, who may/may not be considering independence and number drops
  • Scheduling agreement in place with BYU to provide team opponents for two seasons
  • Utah St. not part of WAC/BYU agreement due to existing series.
  • Future of conference hangs on whether Nevada and Fresno can be released for 2011
  • If 2011, WAC may lose standing as a BCS non-AQ conference
  • If 2012, WAC may be safe as they are looking to add members
  • WAC schools also on hold regarding 2011 schedule and need for additional opponents
  • Schools being considered: Texas St., UTSA, Seattle & Denver. Last two as non-FB schools
  • WAC tournament for 2011 is a stepladder format w/ninth place team left at home. Would not change in eight team league. Unsure if membership goes to eight or ten members.


  • BYU to be independent in football in 2011, join WCC in all other sports
  • BYU regular NCAA participant over last decade, most appearances w/out championship
  • BYU has agreement w/ESPN for minimum of three football games on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. Others on ESPNU. At least one game on BYUtv.
  • BYUtv will gain re-air rights to all ESPN games and road games involving BYU on ESPN Networks
  • WCC deal adds strength of BYU. May help raise profile of conference beyond Gonzaga & St. Mary's.
  • WCC will likely have to change format of conference tournament from a stepladder to another format, or the ninth place team may be left out

Conference USA

  • CBSC contract is complete. As of today, ESPN contract is not.
  • No known holdups, though with the changes in the MWC and WAC, C-USA may be looking to solidify number of windows on ESPN or waiting for add'l realignment
  • Unknown if C-USA is actively courting other networks or looking to solidify all rights with CBSC


Unknown said...

Any idea when the current Big Ten contracts expire? The exclusive 3:30 window is annoying. Too many games on at 11am.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

D, you double posted the comment so I deleted the 2nd instance.

This says it was a ten year deal with ABC/ESPN, and 2010-11 is the 4th year of the deal, so 2016-17 would be the final year if I counted right.

Anonymous said...

Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M are all guaranteed $20 million/year in distributions (at least) from the new television contract. If any of those three fail to make $20 million, shortfall will come from the remaining 7 members.

sjf said...

Do you have any idea if the Colorado Nebraska game will continue the Friday after Thanksgiving?

Gregory said...

Hi Matt:

Here are some thoughts on the Big Ten:

1. Their conference schedule will expand to six games for only three weeks of the season. The other nine weeks of hte conference season will have five games with two teams on byes.

2. Delaney has said that he is reopening the rights agreement with ESPN (and presumably the BTN also).

3. Similar to your implication, I predict there will be November night games (selected prior to the season starting).

4. Similar to your implication, I predict that the ABC exclusivity will be reduced to only one time slot (e.g. the BTN can have a double header at 12:00 ET and either 3:30 ET or 8:00 ET if the BTN has two games).

5. Other predictions:

-- Iowa vs. Nebraksa will be played on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

-- ABC wins the rights to the title game, at price of ~$15M.

-- The Big Ten still is the only conference to not play Thursday games (other than prior to Labor Day).

Matt Sarzyniak said...

@Sally - There has been no movement for Colorado to continue to maintain Nebraska as a rivalry game, and vice-versa. Colorado has OOC games with Ohio St., Hawai'i, Fresno St. and Colorado St. for 2011. The Hawai'i game is on the island and will allow them to schedule 13 games.

@Gregory - Does not surprise me that the Big Ten would reopen rights. What would surprise me is if the reopened the rights to leave ABC and/or ESPN. Think this would be just to get more money, not to look for new partners.

CA said...

I love your work Matt! One item to add regarding the Pac 12: Chris Hill, the Utah AD, said the conference has agreed to play all non-conference games in September. Not sure if that will apply to USC/Notre Dame and Stanford/Notre Dame.

Joseph Miller said...

Don't remember where I saw it but I believe the Mountain West is planning on moving to nine conference games at some point when Fresno and Nevada make the move.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

@CA - That statement by Dr. Hill is interesting, particularly for USC-ND. I think Utah & BYU are resigned to their matchup being early in the season. I suspect USC-ND will be an exception. Maybe Stanford's game with the Irish too since Cal-Stanford usually isn't the end of those teams seasons, at least lately.

Re: Big Ten Network. I wonder if their are limitations from their command center (might be in Fox's command in Houston) where they can only do five games at a time. That might force hand during OOC season to coexist w/ABC on limited basis.