Saturday, April 2, 2011

Random Items for 4/2/11

Just spitballin'.  Not throwing the #Fastball.
  • Have to say that I was extremely impressed with the CBS/Turner arrangement for the NCAA men's tournament. Although I did not see any TV from the Friday-Sunday games of the 1st weekend (was at Quicken Loans arena for games there), I was impressed on how well the talent was able to let the viewer know where to find a close game and how well Turner talent meshed with the CBS talent when the crews were mixed both courtside and in the studio.  The online aspect of the tournament was improved as well with Turner providing more social networking features to the March Madness On Demand product.  I'm sure there are items that they would like to improve, but it was a great first run.

  • Still waiting on a fair amount of early season college football telecast information
    • Big East - Marshall at West Virginia & Wake Forest at Syracuse were designated as games that could move to another date during the 1st week of the season.  Thursday & Friday night are still open for ESPN, and I'm told one of the games is likely to be moved to Sunday
    • Big 12 - The conference has still not made its schedule official as games are expected to be moved to Championship Saturday and to Thursday nights.  One article notes fans are getting restless as they want to start prepping for road trips and plan for lodging & transportation, particularly airfare which increases by the day.
    • C-USA - Besides the likely Miss St.-Memphis Thursday night opener, FOX Sports Media Group & CBS College Sports are finalizing their schedules.  Does not look like games will be selected on a 12 day basis.  More on C-USA later as they have other rights issues
    • MWC - I expect that their TV schedule is in flight.  Likely being decided in tandem with the C-USA schedule for CBS College Sports, with select games on Versus.
    • WAC - When the schedule was announced, it was said that additional telecasts would be selected as only one has so far (Boise St. at Fresno St.).  There are other games on the schedule that are worthy for TV, just depends whether they'll be in season selections or if ESPN will move games to weeknights.  With the WAC expecting a severe rights fee and appearance cut, there might only be 2-3 more ESPN/ESPN2 appearances.
    • Service academies - In the same boat as other conferences tied to CBS College Sports.  Only item we're waiting on is the kickoff time 
  • Regardless of whether you like that C-USA signed a deal with FOX Sports for their telecast rights and/or you feel ESPN wronged the conference while they were a rightsholder, we have to be mindful of the legal issues surrounding ESPN's lawsuit against the conference.  ESPN has their opinion of what went down, so does C-USA.  Its possible that either side could be wrong and we have to let that run its course.  I do believe competition is good and I don't believe that ESPN is suing to directly damage FOX in any way.  FOX will become involved, likely to establish timelines of negotiations and probably to protect the agreement that ESPN has requested to be voided.

  • Fantastic move by NBC to convince Notre Dame to move their home game vs. USC to a night game.  First on-campus night game since 1990 vs. Michigan.  Arguably the marquee Notre Dame home game this year.  I know that the administration there does not like to do night games due to possible crowd/tailgating issues.  Looking over the available games for ABC, that might be better than anything that they can offer for Saturday night.

  • Larry Scott has been monitoring the NFL lockout and has thought about moving games to Sundays in the event the lockout reaches September.  Some conferences this works better than others.  I believe all conferences have had discussions about this, possibly in conjunction of setting television schedules. CBS might be an SEC rightsholder, but I don't think it works for their conference due to the traveling nature of most fan bases.  Might work with the Pac-12 or the Big East, though with so many weeknight games in the Big East already, it might not work either.  Small conferences might be a worthy target, for the right price, but I think those decisions need to be made now.  Not in August.

  • With Pac-12 rights for 2012-13 and beyond on the open market, we'll see whether Comcast & Turner, or maybe another unknown party, will challenge FOX or ESPN for existing rights.  If its true that the conference wants to consolidate their rights under a single partner, that might leave Turner or ESPN out.  Don't count out ESPN though.  They might not be able to offer as many timeslots on ABC or the various ESPN networks, but they have a solid digital platform and by starting up the Texas network, they'll be able to discuss their ability to do a Pac-12 network.  Like others, I do believe that FOX is still likely to offer most of what the Pac-12 wants.

  • F/X moving back into sports programming, particularly college sports, is a welcome move.  The network televised games from the Big 12, Pac-10 and Conference USA, when C-USA had a contract w/FSN from its inception until 2000. Similar to "ESPN on ABC" and "Golf Channel on NBC", these games will be known as "FOX Sports on F/X" and they'll likely take up the single best of all available games on a weekend.  I'm guessing the majority of these games will be at 7pm, where FSN used to have plenty of preemptions due to regional pro sports.  It likely becomes the regional window for the SEC, Pac-12, ACC (new sublicense from ESPN via Raycom) and C-USA where available.


Unknown said...

Three things--

One, considering that Dan Beebe is an incompetent tool (at best), it should not be a surprise to Big XII remnants that the conference can't put a schedule together. What's even more embarrassing is that the Big XII, who only has ten teams to schedule, can't get their schedule completed in a timely fashion, but the Big 10 and Pac-12, each with new members and 12 teams, can.

Two, I agree that Fox Sports getting involved in college programming again is good, but I'm worried that it may exacerbate the problem of conference-biased ESPN programming instead of nipping it in the bud, as ESPN will now pull out the stops to prevent conferences from jumping ship to better Fox Sports deals.

Three, while the Big XII may have dodged a bullet, they can't be too happy with their contract deals, especially when the Pac-12 and Big 10, recipients of disgruntled former Big XII programs, stand to make more TV money per year than UT when all is said and done. Add to that the talk of Fox OtA (not Fox Sports/FX Cable) amassing funds to bid on upcoming Pac-12/Big 10 TV deals currently with ESPN, and things don't look good for the conference in the long term.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Yeah, I'm rather surprised its taken this long. I am encouraged that it appears one game has been moved to Thursday (Arizona-Oklahoma St.).

I think the Big 12 is working year-to-year, but the possibility of making 350% more money in the pay-tv market can calm a lot of fears. If the Big 12 wasn't going to be getting that kind of green, I could see those programs being more concerned. There's an arms race in the revenue area though.

Unknown said...

(Other Matt here)

Don't see the Big XII getting anywhere close to 350% of what they're getting now.

For one, anyone bidding on Big XII must keep in the back of their mind that Texas could pull up stakes and leave the conference high and dry at any time. Texas won--sorry, the Big XII won't sign off on any deal that restricts Texas' ability to leave on a whim, and no exec worth their salt will throw money the Big XII's way w/o assurances that Texas isn't going to walk out on them.

Two, any bidding done to secure Big XII rights, especially in a down economy, will only make Pac-12 and B1G rights that much more expensive. In essence, these networks are not only bidding against each other, but themselves for near-future contract updates. Not smart to pay big for Big XII play when better conference deals are right around the corner--otherwise, you're only pricing yourself out of the game.

Will the Big XII get a bump up? Yes.

Will it be substantial? Maybe.

Will it exceed what the ACC brings in per team? Yes, but barely.

Will it exceed the B1G, Pac-12, or SEC per team? No, doubtful, and No.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Remember that this is only the FSN/cable contract being bid on right now. A 450% jump (from $20m to rumored $90m) on that contract really is around a 2x overall jump.

$60 million from ABC/ESPN + $90 million from FOX Cable = $150 for ten teams. Old numbers is around $80m for 12 teams.

FOX is rumored to be paying for more games to hold, even before any conference-related network is in place. They hold 25 now an its rumored to have them holding close to 40 games w/FX and FSN televising games. And with the schedule changes in place where there are more conference games, the perception is there are better games for all TV partners to select.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

And just to speak to Texas briefly, where are they going to go, and get the same deal they have today?

Things broke down w/the Pac-10 over this. They thumb their nose at the SEC, who would allow this type of deal. Big Ten I believe falls into the same category as the Pac-12.