Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Longhorn Network, ESPN's use of HD & Pac-12 Network

ESPN's use of HD

This revolves around the GamePlan package and reverse mirror games that usually occur at 3:30pm with a Big Ten game and on occasion at 8pm.  The good news is that it appears that ESPN plans to make both reverse mirror games available in HD to 100% of the nation.  Previously, it would depend on how widely distributed a game would be on ABC and subsequently on ESPN.  It would take me a long time to explain, but the rule of thumb used to be if a game would be seen by over 50% of the nation on ABC, it would not be in HD on ESPN.  Now ESPN's plan is to make everything available in HD for these situations.

Item #2 revolves around the GamePlan package, which will not be in HD this year.  I have not subscribed to GamePlan in several years, using and regional sports networks to fill in the gaps.  I do realize that this upsets some people, particularly those who do not have the option or go to bars/restaurants to watch games. 

All courtesy of this Twitter exchange.

Longhorn Network

It came out yesterday that the opener vs. Rice would officially be the 1st live football game on the Longhorn Network.  The item that was somewhat surprising, though alluded to by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, is that the network will air a 2nd Texas game and it will be a Big 12 conference game.

Based on several tweets and discussions yesterday, this is what we know:
  • FOX received some form of special considerations for allowing the 2nd LHN game.  It could be that FOX will leapfrog ABC in the selection order a certain number of times during the season for a premium game on F/X or FSN and/or that FOX Network will be able to air a Big 12 game or two.
  • Any game on Longhorn Network beyond the initial game that is set aside for them to air, as per the new media deal starting next year, will come out of ABC's rights agreement.  But ESPN had to work with FOX to get any games for 2011.  This means that ABC could air 15 Big 12 games as a maximum in 2011.  ABC is contracted for 18 games and when Texas-Texas A&M appears on ESPN, it counts towards the 18 games.
  • The current deal with ABC allows for a team to appear on ABC no more than six times as part of the contract.  Since both Longhorn Network games come out of ABC's pool, plus ESPN has set aside the Baylor (ABC), Oklahoma (ABC) and Texas A&M (ESPN) games, ABC will likely have only one other Texas game as part of the Big 12 contract (ie. excluding their appearance at UCLA).
  • Texas can still appear on ESPN as part of games sublicensed from FOX, such as the BYU game.  Those do not count towards appearances from the ABC contract.
  • These games will not be available on
What we don't know:
  • Does the 2nd game have to be a Texas home game?  I assume that it does, so either road game vs. Missouri and Oklahoma St. could end up being the other ABC appearance.  That leaves home games vs. the Kansas schools, plus Texas Tech as options.  My money feels safe on Texas Tech.  Makes sense too since you are trying to sell the network in Texas.
  • How would the other Big 12 team get compensated for a game on LHN?  My assumptions, since it comes out of the ABC pool of games, is that they get compensated as if the game aired on ABC.
  • Can I see these games on  You might.  Maybe that's where they end up instead of
Pac-12 Network

Per a series of tweets from Jon Wilner, the Pac-12 Network expects to have overflow channels for football games like BTN uses throughout the season.  Also, FOX & ESPN will consult with the conference office to determine game draft order and scheduling to allow for all parties, including the Pac-12 Network, to have premium content available to them throughout the season.

Wilner also notes that no distribution models have been finalized and that having TV overflows could be a companion to digital/mobile outlets.


youknowrobby said...

thanks Matt.....

The Oklahoma St game is in Austin. I could see that game as the final ABC game for Texas.

youknowrobby said...

Matt, heard anything about being able to view the Texas/Rice game on (streaming)?

thanks, Robby

youknowrobby said...

Matt, any news if we'll be able to view the Texas/Rice game on (streaming)?

thanks, Robby

Matt Sarzyniak said...

No news about any way to view Rice/Texas on LHN. Outside of a news item that Verizon & Grande Communications are close, its possible that very few people will see the launch of the network.