Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kickoff times, the Big 12 and ESPN

My latest set of 12 day predictions for the 9/29 games, and the previous weeks' kick times for West Virginia  has generated some questions on why the Mountaineers have played a pair on 12pm kickoffs on F/X and my guess that they would have another one on 9/29.

Matt Allevato, a writer for,  asked why Towson-LSU would be a night game on ESPNU where Baylor-WVU would get selected for a 12pm kickoff on F/X.

I'll briefly tackle the Towson-LSU item.  The SEC, more or less, owns the 7pm slot on ESPNU.  When the SEC has their primetime doubleheader on CBS (3:30pm & 8pm), ESPN cannot air games the evening window and you'll find the games often airing at 12pm or 12:30pm (yes, Alabama-LSU last year was an exception to the rule).  I can only think of one or two times when the SEC had the ability to air a game in the 7pm ESPNU window and did not since their contract with ESPN started in 2009.  It's extremely rare.  Since the SEC doesn't have any regional cable windows on 9/29, CBS, ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU and the SEC Network syndication package should air all five games.  ESPNU tends to fall at the end of the selection order.

Back to the Big 12.  As a brief refresher, ESPN has 19 games to spread across their networks and has chosen five of them (Virginia-TCU, Oklahoma-Texas, West Virginia-Iowa St., TCU-Texas and one of the Longhorn Network games). So they have 14 left.  FOX has roughly the rest of the games going forward to spend on their broadcast network, F/X, FSN or FOX College Sports.

On 9/29, there are three Big 12 games: Texas at Oklahoma St., Baylor at West Virginia and Texas Tech at Iowa St.  What has been leaked and is known is the following:

  • Multiple leaked schedules from FOX indicate that they've selected Texas at Oklahoma St. for their 7:30pm broadcast network game
  • Slots available on F/X include the 12pm and 4pm slots.  As with previous selections, the 4pm slot appears to be for the Pac-12 and the 12pm slot for the Big 12.
  • An advance listing for FOX College Sports has a Big 12 game at 7pm ET
  • FSN has three Conference USA games scheduled for the day
When I do my guesses, I tend to use what I find as a guideline and those items give me the impression that ESPN would not be selecting a Big 12 game for any of their networks.  ESPN isn't precluded from picking a game that day, but the available listings indicate that they won't.  F/X could move their telecast windows too so that they start later, but they haven't shown a desire to do that yet this year.  In either case, ESPN may have discussed their likely choices for each week with FOX and the conference, deciding that this is a week they would bypass, but elect to choose other games as the season moves on.

In case you were wondering whether moving one of the C-USA games to F/X would help WVU slot into a later time slot, unfortunately it wouldn't.  FSN committed the 12pm, 3:30pm and 7pm slots to C-USA and the Houston-Rice game is at 3:30pm.  ROOT Sports Pittsburgh, the RSN that covers a large portion of West Virginia, isn't picking up any of the C-USA games that day.  They've committed to airing a Penguins preseason game at 3pm (granted, the lockout could make that moot) and a Pirates game at 7pm.  So moving the game to FSN doesn't help WVU either.

On the ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU side of the house, besides three SEC games to slot for those networks, they also have two Big East games to place on their various nets with Florida St.-USF being guaranteed ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 and VT-Cincy likely to be picked as well.  A Big Ten game on ABC at 3:30pm in addition to Wisconsin-Nebraska at 8pm with the late game being a full national game it appears.  Add the ACC in the mix, plus the Pac-12 late in the evening and there's a lot to juggle.  With the Big 12 deal being set so late, it didn't allow for any games to be moved to Thursdays or Fridays except for TCU-Texas and WVU-ISU, but I'd expect some juggling in future seasons.

I do want to make it clear that when I'm doing the selections, they are based on what I know of in terms of available time slots, exclusivity rules (ie. in most cases, SEC games cannot air on CBS and ESPN at the same time) and appearance rules (ie. A single Big 12 team cannot appear on ABC more than six times a year).  I do not make the guesses in a punitive fashion (I know Mr. Allevato didn't take it that way); I just try to place the games where I think they'll go and I'll try to explain any selection that I can.


freakeone said...

Thanks for the info Matt. As a life-long WVU fan (and grad), I don't understand why my fellow fans are upset about games on FX. Last year, several of our games were only available on MASN, which only reached DC, VA, MD, and NC. Now, every game (except JMU) is a national telecast on a major network that is available to everyone (FX is included in 99% of basic TV/Sat packages). Personally, I'm loving the fact that we are getting MUCH more exposure than before. I just wish our fans would realize this and stop whining about noon/mid-day start times.

Again, thanks for all you do Matt...

Matt Sarzyniak said...

As I mentioned to someone on Facebook, I think the Big 12 has done WVU fans a disservice not explaining their TV deals well to them. Don't know if Oliver Luck should pick up that slack, but the TCU fans are a step ahead when it comes to that stuff because they've been surrounded by the Big 12 due to location. For those fans, they've been around it & know it fairly well.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

BTW, I'm not sure I'm explaining everything well either. I've had to ask the Big 12 for clarification on some things with these deals. I'm sure I'll mention something and be proven wrong. I'm cool with that.