Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Nebraska-Oklahoma St. isn't in Reverse Mirror

It has been asked a few times this week why the Nebraska-Oklahoma St. game on ABC at 3:30pm is not part of the "reverse mirror" window with the Wisconsin-Iowa game. ABC elected to go with the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, where neither team is ranked.

According to the Big 12, the ability to reverse mirror the conference's games is outside of the existing television contract and is a separate deal between ABC and FSN, the Big 12's cable TV partner for football. I have been told, informally, that there is a limit to the number of Big 12 games that ABC can reverse mirror in this agreement. The magic number of that limit was not revealed.

In the 1st two years of the reverse mirror, Big 12 and Pac-10 games were not involved in the process. This was largely due to FSN being the cable partner. The ACC and, periodically, the Big East were the two conferences that could be reverse mirrored because ABC/ESPN had both the over-the-air and pay-TV rights to those conferences. That ended last year for the Big 12 and this year for the Pac-10.

The conference will have seven games in the reverse mirror slot when Missouri-Nebraska airs on October 30. My guess is that ABC is close to the number of games that they are allowed to reverse mirror from the conference and they decided that this one would have to be passed by.

For those in border markets in Iowa & Nebraska, it has been mentioned to me that both games will be available via over-the-air means in a few markets. One game will air on the ABC affiliate and the other game will air on a secondary channel (ie. a digital subchannel or another station). Please consult your local listings or your ABC affiliate for details.


Anonymous said...


I live outside of Big Ten territory and sometimes the reversed mirrored Big Ten game is in HD in my market and sometimes it is only offered in standard definition. Why the standard def only sometimes? I've never heard a detailed explantion of this. I've only heard "there isn't enough bandwidth" Can you give any details about this? Thanks.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

As I understand it, ESPN cannot regionalize their HD feed for cable companies. That's where the bandwidth issue appears to come into play.

The easiest way to determine which game will be in HD on the reverse mirror is to check whether the Big Ten game will be shown to over 50% of the country on ABC. If a Big Ten game reaches over 50% of the country on ABC, it will be in standard def on ESPN. If it reaches less than 50% of US on ABC, it will be available in HD on ESPN.