Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recent TV scheduling updates (B1G/SEC/C-USA)

Some of this may be redundant to things posted on my Twitter timeline.  Consider this a recap of sorts.

SEC Network
Going back to this list of questions in a previous blog post, we have a few answers.
  • AT&T U-Verse was announced as the first provider to carry the network
  • There will be a specific online component, where content not shown live on the network will air through a dedicated SEC Network online package
  • Per the Wall Street Journal, ESPN owns the network 100%.
  • Per Sports Business Journal, profits will be split 50-50 between ESPN and the SEC
  • A content board will exist of pIeople from both the SEC office and ESPN.  They will determine which games will air on a particular network.  We can probably infer that a game was selected by the SEC Network ahead of ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU, but we probably will never know those games.
  • It appears that the national cable properties (ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU) will continue to see the same number of football and men's basketball games
  • Alterations were made to the CBS contract.  Their game window is no longer exclusive.  The SEC Network can air a game at the same time as as a game on CBS.  Does not appear that right was afforded to ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU.  In addition, the ESPN contract with the conference now extends out to the 2033-34 athletic year.
  • At least the CSS regional cable package is moving to the SEC Network in 2014.  The FOX Sports RSN package will move over in 2015 
What isn't known yet

  • If every SEC school has to appear on the network a specific number of times
  • If the 12:21pm syndication package is truly going away.  Have heard from multiple people that the SEC schools haven't been explicitly told that, but to maintain a consistent level of coverage on ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU and provide the SEC Network with up to 45 games, you would think they would be going away in 2014.
Big Ten

The conference, ABC/ESPN and BTN selected their night games for 2013.  My list differs slightly from the ESPN & Big Ten releases as they list the Notre Dame at Michigan game as possibly airing on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2.  Their NASCAR schedule conflicts with that, but maybe something is brewing on the NASCAR side of the house.  Hasn't been the first time a race on ESPN Networks has switched to a different channel, but that is usually a Nationwide Series race.

The use of a 6pm window on 9/7 and 9/14, along with the 9pm window on 9/14 is something new.  Don't know if that means that the conference will stack the window before the 6pm games, whether its at 12pm or at a later time, with multiple games if ESPN chooses not to take many games for those two weeks.

As for "regional coverage" for the Indiana games on 9/7 and 9/14, that may be more relevant to non-satellite subscribers.  I've asked around about those and haven't received an answer from the conference or network.  Could be that BTN2Go is required for those outside of Indiana for systems that only have one alternate BTN game-only channel.

Up next, and probably within the next week or so, should be the Big Ten setting the game times for its homecoming games.  ABC or ESPN may elect to choose one of these games for either 12pm or 3:30pm if it desires, but most of these will not have TV set for them.  With the night game selections, only the homecoming games for Northwestern and Michigan were selected.

Conference USA

A preliminary TV schedule was released for the 2013.  At first was a little surprising to see FOX Sports take nearly all of the Thursday and Black Friday games (CBS Sports Network ended up with one game on Black Friday as part of a C-USA & MWC doubleheader).  But when you look into the C-USA press release and see that, at a minimum, at least 10 of the 20 games currently selected have to air on FOX Sports 1, it makes a little more sense.  

C-USA had nine games scheduled for Thursdays or Black Friday specifically for their TV partners (the Jackson St.-Tulane game was moved by Tulane, not TV).  CBSSN took their Black Friday game, and it leaves FOX Sports with eight games.  There were only one or two Thursdays where a C-USA game also had a competing Big 12 or Pac-12 game.  Assuming they were serious about a weekly Thursday night game, those games should be plugged into the FOX Sports 1 count immediately.  That leaves FOX to pick up a 2-4 C-USA Saturday games for FOX Sports 1 to hit their minimum.

Also, the number of games on FOX Sports and CBSSN didn't increase in proportion to the increase in members from 12 to 14 members.  CBSSN actually decreased their number of national games to 13 while FOX stayed at 20, though FOX could increase their number though games exclusively on FOX College Sports if they desire to add some.  Otherwise, regional partners outside of CSS can start working with individual schools to pick up games.  Maybe FSN would look to back fill games lost to FOX Sports One with some regional games.

CBS Sports Network
Looking over the CBSSN schedule of C-USA, Division II, Mountain West and service academy games and they will have a minimum of 49 games on their network for 2013, at least seven more games than last year.  Some of that can be attributed to the extra week of the season, but the network still have to account for a 2x increase in the number of MW games.  How did they do it?
  • There a few more late evening (ie. 10-10:30pm ET) kickoffs specifically to account for the MWC
  • A doubleheader of C-USA and the MWC on Black Friday
  • Using a pair on Friday night windows outside of Black Friday, specifically one for an Army game
  • Filling time on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend with Colorado-Colorado St.
The 9/21 3:30pm window is open, presumably for a Patriot League game.  They have to carry at least one PL game each year.  They could also sublicense an Ivy League game from NBC Sports Network, which they did last year.  

Even if the Air Force-Navy game ends up on CBS instead of CBSSN, the addition of their PL game should put them at 50 games for the year.  Who knows.  Maybe they'll add a couple more CBSSN and MW games too.

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