Friday, June 22, 2012

Texas Tech dictating road game TV is a slippery slope

UPDATE: Per Chip Brown, ESPN is moving on and looking to pick another Texas St. game for the Longhorn Network.  But you're more than welcome to keep reading and comment.


I read over the alleged issue that Texas Tech has over Texas St. with respect to the possibility that the game between the two schools in San Marcos could air on Longhorn Network as the WAC has recognized it as one of the ESPN platforms that the conference will allow its games to air on.  Texas Tech is furious that ESPN may elect to place the game on LHN and is seriously considering cancelling the game and paying whatever buyout is in the contract.

I get it.  Texas Tech doesn't want a football game involving them on a network that benefits the University of Texas, not to mention that the LHN has so little visibility right now that this game can be used as a hammer to drive cable systems to pick up channel.   I don't believe that when the series was signed between the two schools that the LHN was a possible TV option.  But we've seen TV rights be an impediment for series before, for example when Minnesota and Texas cancelled a future football series over replay rights.

Cancelling this late in my opinion is extremely bush league on Tech's part.  12 games isn't a given as we know Temple will play 11 due to their late entry into the Big East.   But having a game televised is a privilege, not a right, and since they signed this series to play in San Marcos, Tech lost the ability to have any say in the television rights.  To me, it sets an extremely slippery slope and could affect future non-conference scheduling around the country if Team A doesn't like Team B's telecast partners.

This is probably an extreme example, but lets say that Northwestern St. is Texas Tech institutional game.  Let's also assume that Texas Tech decides to webcast the game at a fee of $10 exclusively through the Texas Tech athletics website.  If Northwestern St. doesn't like that, should they cancel that game because their fans would have to pay Texas Tech to watch (which is kinda the same as buying a ticket, no)?

Either way, I hope cooler heads prevail.  My solution would be either ESPN3 or don't televise it.  Texas St. can webcast home games that ESPN doesn't take too.  See if Tech prefers any of those options.

Nevada's game at Texas St. was also listed for "an ESPN platform".  They're on the clock next...


Andrew said...

TTU fans had to pay $10 to watch a game feed online from the University of Nevada two years ago. NO ONE had an issue with it.

The line is drawn when you are playing a team and the game gets picked up by a RIVALS network that isn't even involved. ESPN tried blackmailing Tech into it last year (threatening not to play ANY Tech games on any ESPN platform if they didn't play UT on the LHN) and Tech called their bluff. ESPN backed down. They are lOoking for any way for it to make money off of Tech on the LHN and Tech won't make it happen.

It's odd that you find it bush league for Tech to do this but Tech made it clear that they will never play football on the LHN last year (I believe it was the president of Tech saying that he will never make a Tech fan pay a dime to the LHN). But ESPN tries again and announces it now after before just saying that it would be on "some" ESPN channel. It's fairly obvious they had been planning this before. They have been trying to do this for some time. That is bush league.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Side note re: the Nevada game. That one was originally set as an ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 game before being mysteriously pulled from the schedule with no explanation. I just found it interesting. Nothing more.

I'll be honest. LHN did not cross my mind re: the two Texas St. games until I read the articles last night at the bar. I asked someone at ESPN recently re: UTSA games on LHN and they weren't sure of the status of those for 2012, so Texas St. didn't come to mind.

But I agree with your second paragraph and Tech's stance on it.

bigddan11 said...

Most people didn't argue with UTSA games on LHN because UTSA is a Texas farm hand school. Most people wouldn't argue with UTEP, UT-Arlington, UTSA, UT-Brownsville, UT-Dallas, UT-Pan America, UT-Permian Basin, or UT-Tyler all for that reason. Being that they are all run by the University of Texas, it would make sense that all UT sports were on the UT Sports Network, currently named LHN.

However it's a bit different for Texas State. Texas State isn't a UT affiliated school. It makes no sense to air Texas State games on LHN unless you are going to rename the network and make it a Texas Regional network for the entire state with all sports.

Texas Tech has every right to complain. Longhorn Network isn't available in Lubbock, and the games aren't made available online. Texas would need to offer the game to all Texas Tech Sports Network affiliates in order for them to even consider the possibility of Tech at Texas State on the network, but that would also make the game available to Fox Sports Southwest, which Texas Tech Sports Network has a contract for in men's basketball. Why would Texas Tech want to help their rival Big XII school get extra money though?

Now for Nevada at Texas State, there's an easy solution if they want it on Longhorn Network. Make the game available in the state of Nevada to KAME. It would be the same thing they did last year with Kansas at Texas. KAME has carried Nevada road games, like those on OC Sports, since they entered into a contract with the school to broadcast their sports from 2007-2010. KAME also picked up the Nevada road games on Aggie Vision & OC Sports last year (2011-12). Make it available to the local market, and Texas State fans will probably be happy that the game is being broadcast. After all, San Marcos does get Grande, which carries LHN.

Of course if they really wanted to appease the fans, they'd make all LHN games available on ESPN3 instead of being to ISP's that subscribe for LHN content.

I will say don't be surprised if LHN ends up being the station that carries ESPN+ WAC games in the state of Texas with both Texas State and UTSA in the conference this year.