Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breakdown of ESPN Networks' MBK Coverage

With the release of ESPN Networks' men's basketball coverage for the 2011-12 season, I wanted to take a look and see what the breakdown was for all conferences that ESPN will air games for.  Networks that were part of the count were ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN/ESPN2 flex games and exclusives.  Games that are part of a conference's championship tournament are included in the count.  Rights belong to the "home" team when it comes to non-conference games in the count.

NOTE:  All games that are part of an exempt tournament/event, even if played on a team's home court, have been excluded from these counts.


* The Big East and ACC are the clear leaders when it comes to the bulk of college basketball that ESPN Networks carry with nearly 40% of MBK games where ESPN holds conference-level rights as part of these two conference's packages.  There's a few reasons why the number is so high.

1. ESPN took all ACC rights over from Raycom and has increased the number of ESPNU and ESPN3 exclusives, particularly for non-conference games where those games were often retained by the school and licensed to various regional networks.

2. ESPN is limited in the contracts of the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC on how many games they can take.  In the case of the Big Ten, BTN picks up the majority of the games, particularly in the non-conference portion of the schedule.  With the Big 12 and SEC, schools can create their own rights packages after a specific number of non-conference games are selected.

* The five "Power" conferences that ESPN has contracts with make up 2/3rd of all games ESPN has for conference rights.  The percentage remains consistent when removing ESPN3 games from the equation.

* Three conferences have only their conference championship on ESPN Networks and no other regular season games: Atlantic Sun, Big Sky & Southland.

* The non "Power" conference with the most games on ESPN Networks is the Metro Atlantic, but 2/3rd of those games are exclusives.  The non "Power" conference with the most televised games is the WCC.  The WCC is also the non "Power" conference with the most games on ESPN & ESPN2.

* Six conferences will have at least one regular season game on ESPNU and/or, but their lone ESPN/ESPN2 appearance will be the conference championship: America East, Big South, MEAC, NEC, OVC & Summit.

* Two conferences will have all their televised games on ESPNU: the Ivy League and the SWAC.  The SWAC will have their conference championship on ESPNU, the Ivies are the lone holdout when it comes to a conference championship tournament.

* An additional 143 games are part of exempt & neutral site events and ESPN Bracketbusters.

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