Thursday, May 31, 2012

Project X, SEC Network....It needs valuable content

As Sports Business Journal reported last month, the SEC is looking into a 24/7 conference network.  Termed Project X by the conference, it could be a boon to the conference.  The assumption among most is that ESPN would run it and that makes sense.  FOX and Comcast have experience running a channel dedicated to a conference (and on this day, RIP mtn.), but ESPN isn't going to let its SEC rights get away so someone else can manage them, particularly a competitor.

So what does the SEC need to do?

1) Fix scheduling - In a world with an SEC Network, 11/17/12 cannot happen.  I know that the schools want a tune up game going into their rivalry games, either within the conference or against an ACC team, but 11/17/12 (and its counterpart from last year, 11/15/11) were some of the leanest schedules I've seen for the SEC.  The conference needs to have teams push those to early in the season, or at least do a better job of spreading them out throughout the year.

2) Get conference games for the network - The SBJ articles mentions 2014 as the earliest a SEC Network could start because of existing agreements with FOX and Comcast.  That will certainly provide content, at least in men's basketball where that will cover a couple conference games per week, but they probably need to ditch the SEC Network syndication package (12:21pm ET football games, Wednesday & Saturday basketball games).  The FOX and Comcast packages today don't provide enough quality content, particularly in football

Conference games on FOX & Comcast regional packages
2009: 4 (Total games: 14)
2010: 5 (Total games: 15) 
2011: 3 (Total games: 15)

There were a few games sprinkled in vs. AQ competition in non-conference games too, so those do have some value.  If you add the PPV games to these, that's still a lot of weak sauce that isn't worth paying a big buck for.  They'll need at least the syndication package, and maybe some of the ESPNU games too, to make it worthwhile

3) Guarantee the conference network gets top or 2nd choice - Big Ten Network has 2nd choice some weeks. Pac-12 Network has top choice or 2nd choice.  The regional cable packages are usually low on the totem pole, hence the lack of conference games.  The network would be smart to get top choice in the 1st or  2nd week of the season (when CBS isn't picking games due to tennis) and get 2nd choice a couple times.

Of course, if they take the games off ESPNU or syndication, they'll have choices that will be of interest.

4) Guarantee that every team appears in a conference game - Both the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Network have clauses in their primary deals with networks to ensure that all teams appear on the conference network:

  • Big Ten Network - Each team must make two appearances on BTN and one must be a conference game
  • Pac-12 Network - FOX and ESPN can claim a team for no more than nine appearances as part of the Pac-12 TV contract.  Since the Pac-12 has nine conference games, the Pac-12 Network either gets a school as part of a non-conference home game, or is ESPN/FOX pick a non-conference game from a school, one of their conference games will be on the Pac-12 Network.
CBS does have limits for how many times they can select a team to appear (no more than six times with an exception for seven, SEC Championship excluded), so it is built in that games are available for ESPN to have from every school.  That needs to extend to an SEC Network with limits on ESPN's ability to choose a team for national airing.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What changed in the SEC TV contract to change their business model?

David Teel of the Daily Press posted some interesting info regarding how the ACC was distributing more cash to its members for a few years compared to the SEC until pulled ahead.  Here is Teel's article and it is a very interesting read.

Cash from television rights isn't the only thing to blame, but it made a big difference in the SEC's number.  The conference received $51.2 million in football TV revenue in 2005-06.  Now the average for the existing contract is right around $200 million per year.    What changed that allowed the number to jump so sharply?

1) The SEC gave ESPN everything that CBS didn't take in football.  When the new SEC deal was signed, a team could air no more that one game on PPV.  Look at 2008 and 2007.  Some teams aired at least 3 PPV in those years.  Teams often make little money off the PPVs because of the cost incurred to self-produce those games with the intention of airing live, even though the telecast itself may be used as part of a replay package.  A few games in those years went without TV too.

Now that ESPN has everything, each game gets monetized, except for the possible one game per year, per school.  ESPNU is now in use to televise games weekly and the rest of the schedule reaches more eyeballs through regional cable and syndication (more on that in point #3).

2) More basketball for ESPN.  Yes, basketball doesn't make up the largest part of the SEC television revenue disbursement, but ESPN gained a lot more in the deal.  They paid for every conference game and a handful of non-conference games.  Under the old deals, ESPN often aired only one game per week (Super Tuesday) with  a rare Saturday game.  When JP Sports aired 1-2 Wednesday night games, the rest of the schedule went without TV.  If CBS, JP or FOX Sports South didn't take a game on Saturday or Sunday, it often went without TV.

During conference season, ESPN gave the SEC a minimum of two games per week on ESPN/ESPN2, at least one game during the week on ESPNU, kept alive syndication and gave Comcast a package of weeknight games.  On the weekends, CBS remained in the picture and FOX Sports aired a package of Saturday night games.  ESPN would often pick up one game and syndication took the rest.

In short, the SEC was able to get more viewers for their basketball games by getting them out to the masses through more delivery options.

3) No more "red tape" in syndication.  ESPN now runs the syndication package for both football and men's basketball, in addition to the licensing of games for regional airing on FOX Sports RSNs and a package managed by Comcast.  When JP Sports & Raycom managed the syndication packages, it appears that ESPN limited their ability to provide those games to areas outside of SEC territory.  My guess is that ESPN wanted to protect their PPV packages (Game Plan & Full Court) in those out-of-market areas.  Now that ESPN manages syndication, they are more aggressive when it comes to marketing the SEC.    In 2011-12, the SEC Network football package reached 70% of the US (81 million homes), picking up affiliates in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and in far-flung areas like Honolulu and Spokane.

More reach, more eyeballs = more viewers for the SEC, more available advertisers for ESPN to pitch the content too.

Even the regional packages on cable hit more homes.  The FOX games periodically aired on RSNs outside of SEC markets (same with the Comcast package appearing on some of their RSNs).  Games on regional cable >>> games on PPV.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Last stab at 1st three weeks - Week 1

Television announcements for several conferences should come out starting next week.  It is known that the Pac-12 will have the 2nd pick this week, I assume after FOX.  I have them spending it on Colorado St. vs. Colorado on Sunday.

ESPN2 has NASCAR commitments in the early evening, so they won't have a game until the late evening.

All times Eastern

Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech (ESPNU) 6:30pm
South Carolina at Vanderbilt (ESPN) 7pm
Massachusetts at Connecticut (ESPN3) 7pm
UCLA at Rice (CBS Sports Network) 7:30pm
Northern Colorado at Utah (ESPNU) 9:45pm
Northern Arizona at Arizona St. (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
Arkansas St. at Oregon (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
Washington St. at BYU (ESPN) 10:15pm (confirmed)
Minnesota at UNLV (CBS Sports Network) 11pm (confirmed)

Villanova at Temple (ESPN3) 7pm
NC State vs. Tennessee (ESPNU) 7:30pm (confirmed)
Boise St. at Michigan St. (ESPN) 8pm (confirmed)

Notre Dame vs. Navy (CBS) 9am (confirmed)
Ohio at Penn St. (ESPN/ESPN2) 12pm
Miami (OH) at Ohio St. (ESPN/ESPN2) 12pm
Northwestern at Syracuse (ESPNU) 12pm
Eastern Kentucky at Purdue (BTN) 12pm
Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri (SEC Network) 12pm
Elon at North Carolina (ACC Network) 12:30pm (confirmed)
Youngstown St. at Pittsburgh (ESPN3) 1pm
Richmond at Virginia (ACC RSNs) 3pm (confirmed)
Nevada at California (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
Nicholls St. at Oregon St. (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
William & Mary at Maryland (ESPN3) 3pm (confirmed)
Miami (FL) at Boston College (ABC/ESPN2 RM) 3:30pm (confirmed)
Southern Miss at Nebraska (ABC/ESPN2 RM) 3:30pm
Marshall at West Virginia (FX) 3:30pm
Tulsa at Iowa St. (FSN) 3:30pm
Bowling Green at Florida (ESPN) 3:30pm
Iowa vs. Northern Illinois (ESPNU) 3:30pm
Western Michigan at Illinois (BTN) 3:30pm
Northern Iowa at Wisconsin (BTN) 3:30pm
Texas St. at Houston (CSS) 4pm
Murray St. at Florida St. (ESPN3) 6pm (confirmed)
Liberty at Wake Forest (ESPN3) 6:30pm (confirmed)
Clemson vs. Auburn (ESPN) 7pm (confirmed)
Buffalo at Georgia (ESPNU) 7pm
Jackson St. at Mississippi St. (SEC/FOX Regional) 7pm
FIU at Duke (ESPN3) 7pm (confirmed)
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss (PPV) 7pm
Jacksonville St. at Arkansas (PPV) 7pm
Chattanooga at USF (Big East Local/BHSN) 7pm
North Texas at LSU (SEC/Comcast) 7:30pm
Alabama vs. Michigan (ABC) 8pm (confirmed)
Hawai'i at USC (FOX) 8pm
Rutgers at Tulane (CBS Sports Network) 8pm
Indiana St. at Indiana (BTN) 8pm (confirmed)
Wyoming at Texas (Longhorn Network) 8pm
San Diego St. at Washington (ESPN2) 10pm
Oklahoma at UTEP (FSN) 10pm
Toledo at Arizona (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
San Jose St. at Stanford (Pac-12 Net) 10pm

Kentucky at Louisville (ESPN) 3:30pm (confirmed)
SMU at Baylor (FSN) 6:30pm (confirmed)
Colorado St. vs. Colorado (Pac-12 Net) 7pm

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (ESPN) 8pm (confirmed)

Last stab at 1st three weeks - Week 2

I'm assuming that the Pac-12 Network will have 2nd pick this week after FOX.  They'll take Wisconsin-Oregon St.  Note that ABC does not have a primetime game.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (ESPN) 8pm (confirmed)

Utah at Utah St. (ESPN2) 8pm (confirmed)

Penn St. at Virginia (ABC) 12pm (confirmed)
New Mexico at Texas (FX) 12pm
Iowa St. at Iowa (ESPN/ESPN2) 12pm
Georgia at Missouri (ESPN/ESPN2) 12pm
Rice at Kansas (FSN) 12pm
Kent St. at Kentucky (ESPNU) 12pm
UCF at Ohio St. (BTN) 12pm
East Carolina at South Carolina (SEC Network) 12pm
Maryland at Temple (Big East Network) 12pm
Indiana at Massachusetts (ESPN3) 12pm
Ball St. at Clemson (ACC Network) 12:30pm (confirmed)
Maine at Boston College (ESPN3) 1pm (confirmed)
Austin Peay at Virginia Tech (ESPN3) 1:30pm (confirmed)
Howard at Rutgers (ESPN3) 2pm
North Carolina at Wake Forest (ACC RSNs) 3pm (confirmed)
Weber St. at BYU (BYUtv) 3pm (confirmed)
Wisconsin at Oregon St. (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
Southern Utah at California (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
Sacramento St. at Colorado (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
USC vs. Syracuse (ABC) 3:30pm (confirmed)
Air Force at Michigan (ABC/ESPN RM) 3:30pm
Miami (FL) at Kansas St. (ABC/ESPN RM) 3:30pm
Fresno St. at Oregon (FX) 3:30pm
Florida at Texas A&M (ESPN2) 3:30pm
NC State at Connecticut (ESPNU) 3:30pm
Tulane at Tulsa (FSN) 3:30pm
USF at Nevada (CBS Sports Network) 3:30pm (confirmed)
Purdue at Notre Dame (NBC) 3:30pm (confirmed)
New Hampshire at Minnesota (BTN) 3:30pm
Missouri St. at Louisville (Big East Local) 3:30pm
UL-Lafayette at Troy (Sun Belt Network) 4pm
Savannah St. at Florida St. (ESPN3) 6pm (confirmed)
Michigan St. at Central Michigan (ESPN3) 6pm
Georgia St. at Tennessee (PPV) 6pm
Auburn at Mississippi St. (ESPN2) 7pm
Western Kentucky at Alabama (ESPNU) 7pm
UL-Monroe at Arkansas (SEC/FOX RSNs) 7pm
Florida A&M at Oklahoma (Sooner Network) 7pm
Presbyterian at Georgia Tech (ESPN3) 7pm (confirmed)
FAU at Middle Tennessee (ESPN3) 7pm
Texas Tech at Texas St. (ESPN3) 7pm
Army at San Diego St. (NBC Sports Network) 7:30pm (confirmed)
UTEP at Ole Miss (SEC/CSS) 7:30pm
Nebraska at UCLA (FOX) 8pm
Washington at LSU (ESPN) 8pm
Louisiana Tech at Houston (CBS Sports Network) 8pm
Vanderbilt at Northwestern (BTN) 8pm (confirmed)
Illinois at Arizona St. (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
Duke at Stanford (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
Eastern Washington at Washington St. (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
Oklahoma St. at Arizona (ESPN2) 10:15pm

Last stab at 1st three weeks - Week 3

ESPN2 has NASCAR commitments at 3pm, so I think they'll try to squeeze in two SEC games on the channel.  In addition to that, I believe ESPN will use one of the rumored two SEC priority picks that they have from CBS as part of CBS taking LSU-Alabama last year as a 2nd night game.

Also, the Pac-12 schedule is somewhat light.  I believe the Pac-12 Network will choose 2nd after FOX.  Since the schedule is light, I believe ESPN will pass on a selection for this week and will double up in future weeks, especially since I believe ESPN will take the four Thursday night games plus at least the Washington-California Friday night game, plus one of the Black Friday games.

Rutgers at USF (ESPN) 7:30pm (confirmed)

Washington St. at UNLV (ESPN) 9pm (confirmed)

TCU at Kansas (FX) 12pm
Wake Forest at Florida St. (ESPN/ESPN2) 12pm (confirmed)
Navy at Penn St. (ESPN/ESPN2) 12pm
Western Kentucky at Kentucky (ESPNU) 12pm
UL-Lafayette at Oklahoma St. (FSN) 12pm
Northern Illinois at Army (CBS Sports Network) 12pm (confirmed)
Massachusetts at Michigan (BTN) 12pm
Boston College at Northwestern (BTN) 12pm
Eastern Michigan at Purdue (BTN) 12pm
Bethune-Cookman at Miami (FL) (ESPN3) 12pm (confirmed)
FAU at Georgia (SEC Network) 12pm
Connecticut at Maryland (ACC Network) 12:30pm (confirmed)
Furman at Clemson (ACC RSNs) 3pm (confirmed)
BYU at Utah (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
Portland St. at Washington (Pac-12 Net) 3pm
Florida at Tennessee (CBS) 3:30pm
California at Ohio St. (ABC/ESPN RM) 3:30pm
Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (ABC/ESPN RM) 3:30pm
Houston at UCLA (FX) 3:30pm
Virginia at Georgia Tech (ESPNU) 3:30pm (confirmed)
East Carolina at Southern Miss (CBS Sports Network) 3:30pm
Western Michigan at Minnesota (BTN) 3:30pm
Arkansas St. at Nebraska (BTN) 3:30pm
Northern Iowa at Iowa (BTN) 3:30pm
Charleston Southern at Illinois (BTN) 3:30pm
Miami (OH) at Boise St. (NBC Sports Network) 4pm (confirmed)
FIU at UCF (Bright House Sports) 4pm
Middle Tennessee at Memphis (CSS) 4:15pm
Texas at Ole Miss (ESPN2) 6pm
South Alabama at NC State (ESPN3) 6pm (confirmed)
Texas A&M at SMU (FSN) 7pm
UL-Monroe at Auburn (ESPNU) 7pm
UAB at South Carolina (SEC/FOX RSNs) 7pm
North Texas at Kansas St. (FOX College Sports) 7pm
NC Central at Duke (ESPN3) 7pm (confirmed)
Mississippi St. at Troy (ESPN3) 7pm
Presbyterian at Vanderbilt (PPV or Local) 7pm
Idaho at LSU (SEC/CSS) 7:30pm
Alabama at Arkansas (ESPN) 7:45pm
Notre Dame at Michigan St. (ABC) 8pm (confirmed)
USC at Stanford (FOX) 8pm
Colorado at Fresno St. (CBS Sports Network) 8pm (confirmed)
Ball St. at Indiana (BTN) 8pm (confirmed)
Utah St. at Wisconsin (BTN) 8pm (confirmed)
Arizona St. at Missouri (ESPN2) 9:15pm (confirmed)
South Carolina St. at Arizona (Pac-12 Net) 10pm
Tennessee Tech at Oregon (Pac-12 Net) 10pm

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two minor items from 5/21/12

* CBS made a deal with ESPN to sublicense a combination of ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 men's basketball games over the next four years.  Like the existing deals CBS has with the Big East, Big Ten and SEC, the deals are appearance based instead of a specific number of games.  So a conference game counts as two appearances for a conference, a non-conference game counts as one appearance regardless of if the team is at home or on the road.

The deal is crucial for CBS to continue to have a small presence of Pac-12 basketball and for the network to return to televising the ACC, which did not have any conference games and only a couple neutral site games on the network.

The deal also extends the agreement with ESPN for CBS to televise the MVC championship and for CBS to pick up the 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship.  The A-10's television contracts with ESPN, who sublicenses the game to CBS, ends after the 2012-13 athletic year, so the sublicense could only go for as long as the existing TV deals.

* The SEC's television discussions are ongoing with CBS and ESPN.  The new focus is the possibility of an SEC television network.  As the article notes, 2014 is the earliest you could see the network.  It makes complete sense that the SEC may need to wait until regional sublicense agreements end with Fox Sports South and Comcast/Charter Sports South, particularly because those agreements have included a few conference games each year.  Could get a few more conference games if a network could leapfrog past ESPN a few times, plus if the SEC changes some aspects of setting its conference schedule each year (ie. a few less non-conference games late in the year).

I also agree that CBS shouldn't necessarily pay a huge increase in rights fee for their package unless they get a couple more primetime games, even if it means having to coexist with ESPN a few times but retaining top pick(s) each week.

Either way, ESPN will have a hand in the network, much like they would have had a hand in an ACC Network either directly or through Raycom.  It's their content.  In my opinion, it also sets the possible terms for an ACC Network going forward and with three states who have SEC and ACC schools, if the SEC gets a head start, it may be tough for the ACC to crack the cable/satellite systems.  Bears watching over the next few months.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why are the ACC on ESPN3 so much to start 2012?

A few folks have asked, so I thought it might merit a short post: Why are there so many ACC football games on ESPN3 to start the year?

First off, this has zero to do with any realignment rumors.  We're dealing with 2012, not 2013, not 2014 and/or beyond.

Two things are important with early season scheduling for television.  By the way, for comparison purposes here's the 2012 and 2011 ACC contract's television appearances

1) Quality of opponents - In the ACC's case in 2012, there are not many appealing games ACC home games early in the year and less overall games available. Last year ESPN's TV networks picked up seven ACC home games over the 1st three weeks.  Two were conference games and four others were matchups between teams in AQ conferences.  This isn't just a trend for ESPN.   The Raycom over-the-air and cable packages took three games involving FCS teams early in 2012, one more than they did in 2011 to begin the year.

It didn't help that Florida St. lost West Virginia as a home game late in the offseason and was unable to replace it with a comparable opponent.   ESPN3 has 11 ACC games to start the year, nine against FCS competition.  2011 it was nine games with eight of those games against FCS schools, so that's rather flat to me.

Overall, the ACC has 22 available home games over the 1st three weeks.  2011 had 25 available home games.

2) Other conferences - The SEC's addition of Texas A&M and Missouri means that they'll have additional games available for TV throughout the year.  The Pac-12 now has 20 games yearly available to ESPN's television networks.  Even though most will be in primetime, available matchups will affect how other conferences are scheduled.

What didn't change?

  • No new networks to fit in all the games
  • Still only 24 hours in a day and teams don't like to kickoff before 12pm locally if they can avoid it.
Time and available space never changes when a conference expands or a network takes on more games without adding a new network or available day of the week to televise on.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Third tier rights: What are they?

First, an attempt at an analogy.

I buy vinyl records.  Some newer albums come with a code/voucher so you can get the high quality MP3s.  Some don't.  So when I have to build my MP3s from the record, I can't use the same settings to get a good MP3 from one record to the next.  Not every album was mixed and mastered the same.  When I record Jack White's Blunderbuss, it was mixed at a low volume, so I can't add a lot of gain or treble without the MP3 sounding like it has tape hiss.  On the other hand, I can add treble to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds because it was mixed rather flat.  Both of those album's were mixed & mastered fully digital, unlike my vinyl copy of Neil Young's Harvest pressed sometime in 1972 done on analog tape, so it needs virtually no alteration.

No two conferences, when it comes to 3rd tier television rights, have exactly the same definition either.  Some folks assign regional telecasts or internet exclusives (ie. ESPN3) to the 3rd tier.  Others I've seen assign the tag to the quality of the opponent (FBS AQ, FBS non-AQ, FCS).  It has nothing to do with the quality of the opponent or the game's competing teams.  Let's get that out of the way.  Indiana vs. Illinois (no offense to alums of those schools, just trying to make a point) isn't 3rd tier because those schools playing each other.

Tiers shouldn't be assigned based on distribution of games or selection order, though it can be a guide in some cases.  ABC bypasses conferences during weekly selections periodically.  On the flipside, the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Network have the ability to choose ahead of ESPN.

Once upon a time, you could make a reasonable argument that tiers of rightsholders could be set as the over-the-air national broadcaster, the cable television rightsholder, then the syndication partner.  The argument holds less water today now that ABC Sports doesn't exist as a separate entity from ESPN, that the Big Ten Network as a 24/7 channel shows games nationally and regional syndication from the SEC is far from regional when it reaches close to 70% of US households.  When ESPN pays for cable and syndication rights to a conference, is there a way to delineate between what ESPN pays for cable vs. syndication?  Not really.

Here's my best effort at the AQ conferences.  Scream at me later.

ACC - ESPN is the sole rightsholder.  They bought everything from the ACC.  National and regional.  Lock, stock and barrel.  There isn't a second tier even.  Games get spread over various Disney entities and ESPN is allowed to sell games to Raycom so that Raycom can sell games on a regional basis.

Big 12 - The conference allows schools to set aside one home football game and a handful of OOC men's basketball games to monetize as they see fit after national rightsholders ABC (football), ESPN (men's basketball, including Big 12 Network syndication) and FOX cable (football) take their cuts .  In the case of University of Texas, this is the Longhorn Network.  Kansas has their Jayhawk Network syndication, Iowa St. does their Cyclone TV Network, etc.  The games are supposed to be televised regionally but I do not believe there are location limitations when it comes to online streaming.

Big East - UPDATED: Same as the ACC.  ESPN owns everything.  Schools can buy back some content from ESPN (some OOC basketball, replay rights, etc.).

Big Ten - The Big Ten Network.  I don't think much needs to be said here.  ABC and ESPN take care of over-the-air and primary national cable broadcasts in football and CBS and ESPN handle it in basketball.  Big Ten Network takes care of the rest and arguably is 2nd tier in football since ABC and ESPN are of a common corporate entity.

Pac-12 - The Pac-12 Network.  Its debatable who the 1st or 2nd tier rightsholder is for the conference, so its best to note that ABC and FOX do over-the-air games in football, ESPN Networks (basketball & football) and F/X (football) and FSN (basketball) do the cable games and Pac-12 Network does the rest.  But the selection order varies and each entity (ABC/ESPN, FOX, Pac-12 Network) has the ability to select 1st in a given week.

SEC - Very similar to the Big 12.  One home football game per year and a select number of men's basketball games.  A slight twist here is that the game is always a non-conference game, where the Big 12 game institutional game could be a conference game if all parties agree to it.  The school can choose its distribution method of choice.  Could be a PPV telecast or a local station can pick it up, but it can't be picked up by a national network.

For a few other notables:

  • Notre Dame, like the ACC, has a single rightsholder.  NBC.  There's no syndication.  NBC could put games on NBC Sports Network, but there's no change in rightsholder.
  • BYU does have a 2nd tier of sorts by being able to keep one football game per year for BYUtv.  Note that BYUtv, as a non-profit entity, doesn't generate revenue for the athletic dept.
  • The MWC's old third tier, at least in terms of broadcasting, was the mtn.  Now that it has been announced that it will be dissolved, there are ongoing discussions with CBS Sports Network about what can be done with the games not being televised by NBC Sports Network, ESPN or CBS Sports Network

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick dissection of the Mountain West national TV schedule

With no mtn. in 2012 and an expanded conference of ten schools for the year, the Mountain West released their national TV football schedule.  A few notes:

* The CBS Sports Network count of games produced by the channel remained roughly flat compared to previous years.  NBC Sports Network picked up two more games than they did in prior years.  The added component of four more telecasts through ESPN and the Navy-Air Force on CBS means that the conference will net slightly more than a incremental increase in national telecasts.

* New Mexico is the only Mountain West school not appearing as part of the national package.  Wyoming and Colorado St. make one appearance each.  Could change if any games are added to the national schedule.

* Nothing is known about what the conference will do with the rest of the games under their control.  The press release announcing the national schedule notes that regional and local plans will be announced in the coming weeks.  Whether that means a syndication package that ESPN or CBS manages, internet exclusives and/or ESPN GamePlan coverage is anyone's guess.

Other interesting items related to the MW filling out their plans

* ESPN is just about done with Thursdays and Fridays.  Assuming that ESPN does not do a doubleheader on the opening Thursday night and that they take all four Pac-12 Thursday night games, the only remaining opening is Thanksgiving.  It has been rumored to be TCU at Texas, but is still open.  As for Friday nights, assuming ESPN/ESPN2 do one game on Friday nights and that the November 2nd opening is for Washington-California, the only opening is on 9/29.  Could be Hawai'i at BYU, one of two available Big East games or one of three Big 12 games.

* In the C-USA spring football guide, they note that CBS Sports Network will carry at least fifteen C-USA games.  If they don't pick up a Patriot League game on the opening Thursday night (New Hampshire-Holy Cross has been conveniently moved to that date), UCLA-Rice could be the lead-in to Minnesota-UNLV.  The other available slots for C-USA:

All times Eastern. Late evening spots are possible for UTEP only

EDIT: Removed two slots (12pm, 9/22 & 12:30pm, 11/10) because of Patriot League telecasts.

9/1: All day including late evening
9/8: 12pm, Evening
9/15: 3:30pm, Late
9/22: Evening
9/29: Evening
10/6: 3:30pm, Late
10/13: 3:30pm, Evening
10/20: 12pm, Evening
10/27: Evening
11/3: Evening
11/10: 4pm, primetime, late evening
11/17: Evening
Black Friday: All day
11/24: All day including late evening

There are also the possibility of Thursday night games.  Besides UCLA-Rice, Houston-SMU on October 18th and East Carolina-UCF on October 4th are Thursday games.  The Patriot League will likely take a 12pm spot one week as well.