Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Appearance counts and why they matter to networks

The four football conferences that I know of that stipulate some form of appearance count for schools are the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.  In most cases, the goal of the appearance count is to make sure that the conference's cable package or conference TV network has some value and chance to pick the top teams.  Here's where we stand as of the kickoffs for 10/27, along with any games in November & December which have been selected for television.

Big 12
The ABC/ESPN portion of the Big 12 contract still has an appearance maximum of six appearances per team, per the Big 12 office.  Only Texas is close with five scheduled appearances so far with two on Longhorn Network (one of Texas' three games on LHN is considered an institutional game), one on ESPN and two on ABC.  TCU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma each have three appearances on the networks.  If TCU's remaining games without television are picked up by the ABC/ESPN package, they would max out at six, so they aren't in trouble.

At a minimum, at least one of the remaining Texas Tech games and two of Oklahoma's November & December games must appear in the FOX network/cable package.  If the FOX broadcast tentative package holds up, those two schools will have games in that package.

Conversely, either of Texas's road games at Kansas St. or Texas Tech must be televised in the FOX package of games.  If the Texas Tech game is chosen by ABC or ESPN, the Kansas St. game must be televised by FOX, probably on their cable outlets since they do not have a game listed for FOX's broadcast network on 12/1.

Big Ten
The Big Ten Network has an two appearance requirement and one of those appearances must be a conference game.  Nebraska and Penn St. have only made one appearance on the network and must make a 2nd sometime in November.

Per the Pac-12 office, each school cannot appear in the FOX and ESPN packages no more than nine times combined.  The perceived goal is that each school will have at least one appearance on the Pac-12 Network if the national packages take a schools' entire conference schedule and leave the non-conference schedule alone, or if the national packages pick up any non-conference games, a conference game is there for the Pac-12 Network

Arizona St. and USC have the highest number of scheduled appearances in those at six with three remaining games not set for television, so they are in the clear.  Oregon has five appearances in those packages with four games not set, so they are also OK.

In other words, no team is in danger.

The CBS package of games has an appearance limit of six per school, with four exceptions over the life of the contract where a team can be shown seven times.  The appearance limit excludes the conference championship game.

Alabama, LSU and Florida are at three scheduled appearances each.  None seem to be in danger of hitting the six appearance limit and would only be able to max out at six appearances.

Again, no team is in danger of having a major game deliberately fall to the ESPN or regional packages.

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