Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where to fit the rest of the bowl games

Current Bowl Schedule

There's very few pieces of the bowl schedule puzzle to fit left, so the question is where would you place the remaining games?

Let's get a few out of the way.  I'll be surprised if the Chick-Fil-A bowl doesn't remain the primetime game on New Years Eve, that the Capital One bowl isn't a 1pm game on New Years Day and that the Sun Bowl isn't on New Years Eve in the afternoon.  Here's what I'm thinking with the rest.

All times Eastern

Champs Sports Bowl - Friday 12/28/12 at 5:30pm - Mid-afternoon slot on ESPN that is wide open.  Of the remaining games, I don't see the Pinstripe in this slot because of the preference to play their game in the early afternoon.  And because of that preference...

Pinstripe Bowl - Wednesday 12/26/12 at 12pm.  I think ESPN is going to stack a tripleheader on the day after Christmas.  Game No. 2 is...

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Wednesday 12/26/12 at 3:15pm.  The Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl would then follow at 6:30pm ET.

Insight Bowl - Saturday 12/29/12 at 10pm - I thought about placing this one after the Little Caesar's Bowl, but there is room after the Alamo Bowl for this one.

Beef O'Brady's Bowl - Friday 12/21/12 at 8pm - Instead of a Monday night game on Christmas Eve, ESPN will have an NFL game on 12/22 in the evening, so they won't have a bowl game at that time unless its on ESPN2.  The Friday date is somewhat shaky too because of ESPN's NBA commitments.

New Mexico Bowl - Monday 12/24/12 at 4:30pm - As noted, ESPN doesn't have a Monday night game on Christmas Eve.  I don't think they'll want to play this one in the evening in Albuquerque either, so they'll roll it into a doubleheader with the Hawai'i Bowl.

Homecoming and the Big Ten

Besides the Big Ten setting their night games yesterday and at some point in late May/early June, the Big Ten will also set the kickoff times of their homecoming games in advance of the season.  Sometimes they come up with television broadcasters, sometimes they don't.  Here's the dates of those games.

9/29 Minnesota at Iowa
9/29 Wisconsin at Nebraska (already set for primetime)
10/6 Michigan St. at Indiana
10/6 Nebraska at Ohio St. (already set for primetime)
10/6 Northwestern at Penn St.
10/13 Illinois at Michigan
10/13 Iowa at Michigan St.
10/13 Northwestern at Minnesota
10/13 Wisconsin at Purdue
10/27 Iowa at Northwestern
10/27 Indiana at Illinois
10/27 Michigan St. at Wisconsin

ABC might want one of these games in advance and set it for the 3:30pm slot.  Otherwise, most of these will be at 12pm ET.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2011 FSN Football Report Card

Counted up FSN's report card for 2011.  Several more games due to the addition of C-USA and extra Pac-12 games so the same size is larger.

Here's what I found:
  • FSN's Saturday coverage, on average, could be found as available in 87% of regions at any point.  So for regions with two affiliated RSNs or a Plus/Alternate channel, if the game was one, at some point no later than halftime, I counted it as showing the game.
  • The Pac-12 had the best Saturday clearance rate at 93.5%.  The Big 12 was cleared at about 86% on Saturdays and C-USA at slightly less than 85%.  Both the Big 12 and C-USA clearance rates drop due to two factors on Saturdays:
    • Both conferences suffered pre-emptions from Pac-12 regional games
    • The 7pm ET slot has a number of pro sports pre-emptions
  • Which Saturday time slots are the best?  12pm &1:30pm ET (94.7%) and late evening (10-10:30pm, 93.4%).   The mid-afternoon slot was slightly below average at 85.5% but the 7pm slot, as noted above, had a clearance rate of only 77%.
  • C-USA had the three Thursday night games but the clearance rate was about the same as the 7pm Saturday games at 77%.  Pre-emptions from MLB and the NHL affected those rates.
  • I suspect the NBA lockout helped FSN's clearance rate overall but don't have a clear way to prove that.  FSN did more 3:30pm ET starts in '11 (12 vs. 7 in '10) and less 7pm games (9 vs. 11 in '10), but the clearance rate was nearly even in both slots
  • Five regions carried every game in some form:
    • FOX Sports Houston 
    • FOX Sports Midwest
    • FOX Sports South & SportSouth
    • FOX Sports Southwest
    • Comcast SportsNet Bay Area & California
    • The combo of FOX Sports North & Wisconsin was able to clear the entire Saturday package
  • Four regions were well below the 87% clearance rate
    • CSN New England (50%)
    • ROOT Sports Pittsburgh (55%)
    • CSN Philadelphia & Comcast Network (70%)
    • MSG & MSG Plus (77%)

Note that my data used DirecTV listings in addition to what the networks themselves listed on their websites.  I know that MSG & MSG Plus in western New York might have cleared games that the main feeds of these channels didn't, but they didn't always make it know that the games were available.  Same with the CSN New England overflow channel that seems to be only available on some cable systems.

For FSN I don't know what will change now that the Pac-12 is leaving the regional nets in favor of their new deal.  I don't know that C-USA's clearance rate will improve as the ROOT Sports nets out west will be clearing a Big Sky game for most of October and November.  If the Big 12 moves more games to F/X and possibly FOX broadcast network, they might have some timeslots that C-USA could fill in.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pre-selecting games: Art, science & dumb luck

* We know that the Big Ten night games are selected in advance of the season, particularly the ones that ABC/ESPN wants to pick up.  We also know the conference doesn't do regular season night games once the calendar turns to November.  So what would you select from the conference's schedule?  Here's what I like:

9/15: Notre Dame at Michigan St.
9/29: Wisconsin at Nebraska
9/29: Ohio St. at Michigan St.
10/7: Nebraska at Ohio St.
10/27: Michigan at Nebraska
10/27: Michigan St. at Wisconsin

Are there any games you would switch in for ABC or ESPN to pick up?

* C-USA has a game draft of sorts where FOX Sports can pick the top ten C-USA games that they want to broadcast.  CBS Sports Network can then select ten, FOX selects another ten and then CBS Sports Network can take at least another five games.  If I'm looking at the top ten most attractive games for C-USA here's what I have

9/1: Oklahoma at UTEP
9/15: Texas A&M at SMU
9/15: East Carolina at Southern Miss
9/29: Houston vs. Rice (at Reliant, pre-selected as part of deal to play at Reliant)
9/29: TCU at SMU
10/4: East Carolina at UCF (Thursday)
10/13: Southern Miss at UCF
10/20: Houston at SMU
11/3: Houston at East Carolina
11/10: Southern Miss at SMU

Tried to limit to no more that three non-conference games in FOX's 1st ten picks.  It leaves games like UCLA-Rice, Rutgers-Tulane, Navy-East Carolina & Ole Miss-Tulane available for CBS Sports Network to take in their ten picks.

* The MWC also sets their television schedule before the season starts.  In the past, NBC Sports Network takes eight games, but not always the top eight games (proof of that is BYU-Utah continually ending up on the mtn.).  Lets say that NBC Sports Network, assuming the remain a partner, takes a ninth game.  If I were them, here's what I would take:

8/30: Minnesota at UNLV
9/8: USF at Nevada
9/22: BYU at Boise St. (maybe just to tweak BYU)
10/7: Navy at Air Force
10/13: Fresno St. at Boise St.
11/3: San Diego St. at Boise St.
11/10: Air Force at San Diego St.
11/17: Hawai'i at Air Force
11/24: San Diego St. at Wyoming

Thoughts on any of the early selections?

* As the Pac-12 let us know when they announced the creation of the Pac-12 Networks, do not assume that FOX will get the choice of the best game every week.  ESPN will have it a few times (thought I read at one point that they'll get top choice three times) and the Pac-12 Networks will have a few weeks two.  FOX won't necessarily get clunkers when they don't have the top choice, but it might make the difference in having  Oregon-USC or Stanford-Colorado.

* October 27 is the FOX will carry the World Series instead of college football in the evening. It has been assumed that ABC, who has rights to two Pac-12 games, would pick up the conference in primetime that week.  Not so sure that will happen for two reasons

  1. The Pac-12 slate that week isn't that compelling, at least as of today
  2. Notre Dame-Oklahoma.
ABC would be foolish to not put the Irish-Sooners game on in primetime and send it to the entire nation.  We expect Oklahoma to be a top five team next year and a matchup between two of the most storied programs in the history of college football is too tough to pass up.

And if FOX ends up with a portion of the over-the-air Big 12 rights, I would expect ABC to fight tooth and nail to make sure they don't lose out on televising that one.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Updates from this week, 4/9/12 - 4/13/12

* The news came down Monday that FOX will have college football on a weekly basis in primetime on the east coast, with the exception of October 27th where the World Series takes priority.  According to comments in the blog article previous to this one, FOX will have a game that day in the afternoon and they'll also have a game on Black Friday during the day.

Broadcasting & Cable says it will be 12 Pac-12 games in primetime.  FOX's own release is generic, saying simply "college football".  There's been some smoke regarding FOX being allowed to show some Big 12 games on the broadcast network, and that would be a good reason for FOX to be generic in their release.  According to the release when FOX signed their deal with the Pac-12, it was for eight games on FOX and 14 on F/X.  Unless the conference allowed the terms to be altered, I buy into the reports that the FOX games will be from more than just the Pac-12.

And yes,  C-USA can have games on FOX.  That isn't something I expect to see, at least not more than 1-2 games early in the year.

* Reached out to the Pac-12 office regarding when they expect to announce early television selections.  Have been told that they are working that out with ESPN and FOX, but that June 1st seems to be the target date. Based on the news that FOX's broadcast games will be in primetime, we can assume the five midseason weeknight games will be on cable and since those dates are still open on ESPN, it feels rather safe to assume that those games will be part of ESPN's twenty Pac-12 telecasts.

* Also reached out to the Mountain West offices regarding their television situation now that the mtn. is ending shortly.  The response I received was that rightsholders (in plural) and league presidents are working on the television arrangements for 2012-13.  Not just for football but all sports.  That tells me that CBS Sports Network and another party, likely NBC Sports Network, is working to try to add as many MW events as reasonably possible.  Also likely working through what happens to the events that the rightsholders do not pick up.

* Big East basketball rights should come up for exclusive negotiation with ESPN soon, if they haven't already.  The contracts for football and basketball are not synched up in terms of their endpoint.  When the conference elected to stay with ESPN last time, football was extended though it had two full years to go. Keep a watchful eye on what the conference does.  For their sake, unless they get an offer from ESPN that knocks their socks off to the point that it makes no sense to go on the open market, I hope that the conference negotiates each sport separately, but also tries to sync up the length on both so that they can take all deals to the market at the same time in the future.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where we are in CFB television scheduling for 2012

April's here.  Now that we've passed Easter, conferences and their TV partners will begin meeting to determine any additional special dates games (Black Friday, open Thursday & Friday slots) and do some mock scheduling to determine what games could be available on a given weekend.  Some conferences like C-USA and the Mountain West will go through their entire schedule with their partners.  So what are we waiting on

Last year, their 1st three weeks of television selections came out in May, about three weeks earlier than I expected to see it.  If that date holds firm, ESPN and Raycom are working right now on those selections.  I don't think they are working on any of the remaining open Thursday and Friday night opening, but maybe to fill the Black Friday slot on ABC that they had last year.  I don't see any great choices for Black Friday.  Although East Carolina elected to move a home game to that day, it has been explained to me that the NC high school playoffs are on that date and would not like a late afternoon kickoff that could keep fans from those games.  South Carolina-Clemson and Florida-Florida St. are out there, but I don't see them moving, even though they would not affect any team's chance of appearing in a conference title game.

Big 12
If ESPN plans on licensing any games for airing on Thursday or Friday night, they'll get to work on those.  When ESPN has licensed Big 12 games for Thursday night in previous years, they've ended up altering the conference portion of the schedule slightly, so they'll need to work quickly if any alterations occur.

Big East
Any additional Thursday or Friday games may be tied to what ESPN does with the Big 12.  We know that the Rutgers-USF game date could change.

Big Ten
Last year, the Big Ten night games weren't announced until May.  There were suggestions that ESPN negotiated to get an extra game, not to mention that the parties may have been working on how to adjust their contract to account for the addition of Nebraska.  Now that have stabilized a little, I'm expecting the announcement to revert back to April.

Conference USA
Two games (UCLA-Rice & East Carolina-UCF) were moved to Thursdays and Marshall-East Carolina were moved to Friday for an unknown television partner.  My guess is that FSN takes two (UCLA-Rice & Marshall-ECU) and East Carolina-UCF goes to CBS Sports Network.  C-USA is directly affected by how many additional Mountain West games end up on CBS Sports Network, not to mention having to work around the Army, Navy and Patriot League games on the network.

Mountain West
With the news of the mtn.'s demise, someone needs to make up for the loss of the network.  Not to mention whether NBC Sports Network remains a carrier of Mountain West sports now that the mtn. no longer exists (I have an email out to the conference asking about that).  Schools might end up being able to seek out their own regional partner for whatever games the national partner(s) does not carry.  I think you could see a game or two get moved to Thursday and/or Friday nights to allow CBS Sports Network to carry a few more games from the conference.  The conference has 63 games under its control this year, much more than previous years due to the ten team configuration.

I have an email out to the Pac-12 office asking what the deadline dates are for the conference's early selections and if telecast windows will be set in advance for ESPN and FOX.  Previously, the ABC & ESPN selections and windows had to be decided on May 1st and the FSN and Versus selections by June 1st.  There are several Thursday & Friday games out there without television designations and those could be announced at that time.

I don't think we'll hear anything from the SEC regarding television selections until their spring meetings in May.  They're hard at work trying to figure out the right scheduling rotations going forward, but also need to work with CBS and ESPN (more likely just ESPN) to figure out how to get every game televised.

Army & Navy
Both of the independent service academies must have their kickoff times set by May 1st, so CBS Sports Network will be working on those as they set their network's schedule.  In case you are curious, neither school will allow for night time Saturday games, nor weeknight games.  Just 12pm or 3:30pm kickoffs on Saturdays.  9/15 and 11/03 are the Saturdays where both would play on the network.

BYU can fill some of the open Thursday and Friday night slots on ESPN.  I would guess that they are actively in discussions with the network to determine which home games they are willing to move and what options are available for their Saturday home games, both in terms of network options and kickoff times.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Requiem for the mtn.

It was announced today that the mtn., the regional sports network dedicated to Mountain West athletics, would be shut down at the end of May.  The network will have covered the conference for six athletic years.  It was part of the conference's television deal with College Sports Television, an upstart cable network devoted to college sports.  After the MWC-CSTV deal was, CSTV was purchased by CBS and CSTV in turn licensed the regional network's operating rights to Comcast and the mtn. was born.

It was the first 24x7 conference television network, a forerunner to the Big Ten Network and the forthcoming Pac-12 Network.  There were missteps along the way, such as never appearing on Dish Network and the inability to gain access onto Time Warner systems in San Diego nor the Charter system in Fort Worth.  The lack of a dedicated HD feed for all programming made the channel feel 3rd rate, particularly when other Comcast RSNs had the available HD feeds.  Let's not forget that until a year ago, Comcast wasn't tied to a direct rival of CBS like it is today, and its possible that the two broadcast entities were not willing to partner going forward.

The MWC themselves did not have equity in the channel, so their ability to influence carriage negotiations and programming decisions may have been limited.  We've seen that equity in a channel can directly benefit the schools' bottom lines when done right (BTN), but in the case of the MWC, this allowed them to be insulated from profit/loss issues.

It sucks for folks who were there that were doing their best to push the network towards success.  It sucks for fans of those schools, who may never get that type of regional push across the entire conference's footprint that the channel gave them.  It sucks particularly for basketball and other sports which would have never had their games on regional TV without the channel.

The change in the conference's direction and membership over the past three years is obviously a major reason why its time to shut down.  This shut down should be a cautionary tale to all considering a conference network (SEC ??) and those working on school specific programming (looking at you Bevo).  If the mtn. couldn't survive while offering a boatload of solid sports inventory, the Longhorn Network might as well be shuttered even if it has the the cache of ESPN behind it.

Sports Business Journal notes that the conference is talking with CBS Sports Network about a new contract.  No idea if that involves the remaining MWC schools only, the proposed C-USA/MWC conglomeration or just a 1 year amendment.  Not sure if NBC Sports Network remains in the fold to license games now that they will no longer be involved in the RSN portion of the business.  What happens to the games that aren't on a national platform is anyone's guess.

Comment moderation on my blog

Someone asked why I moderate comments on this blog so I wanted to address that.

I do enjoy that if you decide to read one of my posts and have an opinion or find something factually incorrect that you let me know.  Unfortunately with software, there are developers out there looking to hack into the smallest security hole available.

So I do moderate comments specifically to make sure that someone doesn't post a malicious link in a post or a spam post.  And I have had to moderate those times of comments on this blog, so they do happen.

Anyways, that's why when you comment here, it doesn't show up immediately.  Probably isn't too long after I get it that I allow it to be posted.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Flex Windows Spreadsheet

Same as last year, I'll have a spreadsheet on the site that I'll be updating with potential game windows on each network.  Will add in a regional telecast spreadsheet at a later time.  Slots noted with an N/A mean that the network will not be airing a game in that time slot.  Could be for various other events (MLB on FOX; NASCAR on ABC/ESPN; MLS, IndyCar, Breeders Cup or PBR on NBC Sports Network).  As networks release dedicated game times/networks for games, I will update this sheet.

Here's the spreadsheet

You can also find a link to it on each week's page and on each conference's page at the top.