Saturday, June 29, 2013

More site refactoring completed.

Decided to do additional refactoring this morning on the site.  Should boost performance in mobile/tablet & traditional desktop/laptop viewings.  Links have again changed slightly, but allows me even more code maintenance savings and you, the user, a consistent experience.

What has left the site:

  • For all football seasons, the conference composition & broadcasters pages.  The conference composition page was rather worthless and a maintenance headache if a school switched conferences or changed their website's domain name.  The broadcasters page was redundant compared to the individual conferences' pages and also a maintenance issue as it required yearly updates to keep pace with a conference's TV contract.  Better for me to keep it in one place to maintain.
  • Basketball seasons 2006-07 through 2010-11.  They will be back, as quickly as I can get them entered into the system.  2005-06 is halfway done.  It is summer.  I'll get to them on a rainy day, maybe.
Improvements (mostly for the techies)
  • Microsoft MVC 4 is in use.  That means more compression when delivering content.  Should mean quicker page loads. 
  • Smaller code base for me to maintain.  Compared to the code base of three weeks ago, the code base size is 80% smaller than the old base.
  • Some enhancements due to new URLs

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Small tidbit re: Mountain West Digital Network

Edited to account for a follow up question answered by Javan

Received an email back from Javan Hedlund, the Mountain West associate commissioner in charge of football communications.  Two items from his email:

* There will be five games exclusive to the MWDN.
* The ROOT Sports games will be streamed.

If you are considered to be in-market for ROOT Sports, you will only be able to view the games on television.  The online stream is specifically for out-of-market viewers.

As for the five exclusive, I would guess right now that they could be a mix of conference & non-conference games.

With five exclusives, plus the ten ROOT games and 44 telecasts split between CBS Sports Network and ESPN, expect there to be additional coexists between regional TV and the MWDN.  Nevada announced that their home game vs. Hawai'i would be televised on the island on PPV and available via the MWDN, so more regional TV & online coexists could be forthcoming.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Admin: Site Changes

A few changes have been implemented on the site.  Without getting too technical, here's the changes

1) Most of the site has been changed to use a single shared set of code.  You'll notice that each week's link is formed slightly differently.  Same with the text schedule links. I may look to refactor even further in the future.  Right now, the entire football side is switched over and last year's basketball schedule.  I'm still on converting over the rest of the basketball side.

You should see faster page response time as the core code, compared to the previous code base, is 50% smaller.  For me, it is easier to maintain.

2) On the main weekly page for football, the page will now load with all games showing.  The option is now for you to hide the web games if you don't want to see them.  I may do the same for the text-based page as well, or just elect to show all games there since you have the ability to customize the list as you see fit..

On the basketball side, the ESPN3 games are listed just like any other game already.  No change there.

What didn't change?
-The conference specific pages.
-Basketball pages from 2005-06 to 2011-12, though they will be as soon as I can get around to it.

If you do see a page that is not functioning correctly, please email me using the site's main email address.  Thanks.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A look at the FOX CFB schedule announcement

* Why are there less games on FOX's broadcast network?  Allegedly some of FOX's east coast affiliates wanted the ability to have a local newscast in the early evening.  Looks like they won with ten of the games at 7pm ET.

The three mid-October games not at 7pm ET are due to FOX's MLB playoff commitments.

* And why didn't FOX take a game for Labor Day weekend?  They aren't televising MLB on August 31st either.  Could be a lack of games they felt were worthy to carry.  They clearly wanted to carry college football that day on FOX Sports 1 and still ended up with a pair of FCS vs. FBS games.  Maybe they felt the Georgia-Clemson game on ABC that night was going to draw a lot of attention so they backed away.  I really don't know.

* FOX's broadcast window on 10/19, assuming it remains at 12pm, virtually locks in the Big 12 into that time slot.

* Assuming the remaining four late night windows on FOX Sports 1 belong to the Pac-12, FOX will have accounted for fifteen of their 22 Pac-12 selections:

8/29 8pm: Utah St. at Utah (FS1)
8/31 4pm: Nicholls at Oregon (FS1)
8/31 10pm: Boise St. at Washington (FS1)
9/7 10:30pm: Washington St. at USC (FS1)
9/14 7pm: Ohio St. at California (FOX)
9/14 10pm: Oregon St. at Utah (FS1)
10/5 10pm: UCLA at Utah (FS1)
10/7 10pm: TBA (FS1)
10/12 10:30pm: Arizona at USC (FS1)
10/21 10pm: TBA (FS1)
10/28 11pm: TBA (FS1)
11/16 10pm: TBA (FS1)
11/29 3:30pm: Washington St. at Washington (FOX)
11/29 7pm: Oregon St. at Oregon (FS1)
11/30 TBA: Notre Dame at Stanford (FOX or FS1)

FOX broadcast network is supposed to carry at least eight Pac-12 games per season, which would lead you to believe that FOX Sports 1 can carry no more than fourteen Pac-12 games per year.  Again, assuming the late evening windows belong to the Pac-12, twelve of those fourteen windows have been accounted for.

* The Big 12 also has a minimum of six FOX broadcast windows per season with the WVU-Oklahoma game accounting for one of those windows.  As pointed out earlier, the noon window on 10/19 should account for a 2nd selection.  The Big 12 is also the only conference that FOX is currently contracted to that can fill the 3:30pm slot on December 7th, so the count is presumably up to three.

There is also a minimum of six games on a national FOX cable outlet.  Previously that was F/X, now its FOX Sports 1.  The cable minimum has been reached through early season selections and Thursday night games.

* I noticed that the FOX cable windows on September 28th did not line up with the selection of Army vs. Louisiana Tech, which also had a kickoff time of 3:30pm ET assigned to it.  I'm not sure that its something to get worked up over yet.  There is a FOX Sports 1 window that day of 4pm and I haven't found a network yet that stuck exactly to their scripted time slots, so the FSN window that day at 12pm could move too.  Entirely possible that FOX, Conference USA and the Heart of Dallas Classic organizers are looking to change the kickoff time too.  Keep an eye on it.

The same holds true for the October 12th windows.  FSN only lists a 12pm window and FOX selected Tulsa at UTEP, which would have a 10am local time kickoff if it aired on FSN.  FOX could always elect to move their FSN window later to accommodate the local of the game.

* FSN lives on as a regular outlet for college football with 18 games scheduled on the FOX owned and affiliated RSNs.  Of the four Big 12 institutionally controlled games on FSN, I'm not how many of them will be delivered to all FOX RSNs.  For example, the Wofford-Baylor game could get cleared on a lot of alternate channels, if it does at all in many regions, because many RSNs will have local MLB commitments that evening.

With the remaining ten FSN windows being set six to twelve days in advance, C-USA could have as anywhere from the currently listed two games to up to ten games on the regional nets and the Big 12 at least ten games (up to sixteen possible games), with six games currently set.

* FOX College Sports also lives on, carrying nine C-USA games plus one game involving future C-USA football members Charlotte and Old Dominion.  Neither future member is playing a C-USA schedule this year, though Old Dominion will face exiting C-USA member East Carolina in one of the FOX CS telecasts.

* FOX did guarantee that at least ten of the C-USA games they selected would air on FOX Sports 1 and they've hit that benchmark with seven Thursday night games, two Saturday games and the Black Friday game between FIU and FAU.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Remaining early portion of CFB TV selections

Recapping the additions to the early season college football TV selections...

* The Big Ten selections should come out any day now.  Anything that wasn't selected by ESPN should be picked up by BTN.   When the Big Ten tweeted out that its early season kickoff times and TV would be set last Friday, I assumed it was the entire schedule.   It does make some sense as to why the schools and BTN didn't set things right away.  With BTN having the flexibility of coexisting with virtually any game that airs on ABC or ESPN, the Big Ten schools can now control the kickoff time for those games and make the best decision for them to maximize viewers and ticket sales.

* The SEC is a little harder to predict when its selections, or a portion of them, will show up.  Previous to the 2011 season when the conference was at 12 teams, the CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 selections showed up by mid-June at the latest, with ESPNU and regionally televised games appearing at SEC media day in July.  Last year, presumably with both TV partners and the conference in discussions about various items (a future SEC Network, compensation for acquired rights for adding Texas A&M and Missouri, etc.), nothing appeared until media day in July.

This year, with the SEC Network announcement in the recent past and acknowledgement that CBS and the conference have adjusted their rights agreement, we have the CBS selection for 9/14 of Alabama-Texas A&M, but nothing else.  ESPN's portion of figuring out the early season is more tricky because they need to figure out which games will be given back to schools to air as PPV or local telecasts, plus work with regional partners like FOX Sports South and Comcast's CSS to determine their availability to show SEC football.  

I'd like to believe that the ESPN/ESPN2 portion of the schedule is relatively easy to decide at this point.  Based on the available slots, I suppose would look at the SEC selections like this (and I don't think I'm exactly going out on a limb here):

12pm ESPN: Rice at Texas A&M (you could make a good argument for Washington St.-Auburn, but I think you want to showcase the reigning Heisman Trophy winner)

Mid afternoon ESPN: South Carolina at Georgia

12pm ESPN or ESPN2: Vanderbilt at South Carolina
Evening ESPN or ESPN2: Louisville at Kentucky
Evening ESPN or ESPN2: Mississippi St. at Auburn 

One of the evening slots would be tied to the network airing the Wisconsin at Arizona St. game, so it would probably air at 7pm ET.

* Next up, somewhere, is the American Athletic Conference.  Based on the available games, the Purdue at Cincinnati game seems to be the most desirable one to air nationally and it probably ends up in the 12pm slot on ESPNU.  Maryland at Connecticut and Houston at Temple have a good chance of showing up on TV too, possibly on ESPNU or in the Big East Network syndication slot.   I'm under the impression that the Big East Network will remain intact for 2013.

What about sublicensing of American games?  FOX Sports 1 doesn't seem to have the room for them, unless they try to squeeze in a game at 3:15pm ET on 9/14 for Maryland at Connecticut and FOX does have a C-USA game on that date that they have not yet assigned to a network (Ball St. at North Texas).  I don't think this is where FOX Sports 2 could come into play because American commissioner Mike Aresco brought out a number of 74 million households in a recent interview of where games could be sublicensed to other networks.  It leaves NBC Sports Network as an alternative, but they seem to be pushing forward with their Barclays Premier League coverage plus existing commitments to open wheel racing.  CBS Sports Network would not seem to be an option.  Sublicensing to Turner Sports for one of their networks could work, as could holding onto the games and placing them on ESPNEWS, who is considered an available network starting with the new contract in 2014.  

Through negotiation, anything is possible.

* After those three conferences, here's are other items to keep an eye out on, likely in July and early August at conference media days:
  • Sun Belt Network
  • Mountain West regional airings on ROOT Sports and possibly other RSNs
  • Mountain West Digital Network
  • Finalized kick times for regional C-USA games, which can be dependent on regional SEC games
  • Selections for MAC regional packages 
  • ESPN3 and institutional webcast packages for various FBS and FCS conferences
  • Television packages for the CAA, Ivy League, MEAC, SWAC, NEC and Southland conferences

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A look at spring TV selections after ACC, Big 12 & Pac-12

Big 12

* The only visible changes to the ACC with the addition of Pittsburgh & Syracuse are 1) YES, MSG and ROOT Sports Pittsburgh will have the ACC RSN package and 2) the package will start the season with telecasts at 12:30pm.

No reason was given for the shift in time from mid-afternoon kick times to the 12:30pm starts.  In September, FOX's MLB windows start at 12:30pm ET, so RSNs carrying local MLB telecasts will not be able to televise any games during the early afternoon, leaving the RSNs free from that obligation.  With FOX Sports 1 taking on football games airing previously on FSN and FX, many of those RSNs could have open programming holes that the ACC package could fill.

* The Big 12 and Pac-12, along with Conference USA fill out a fair portion of the FOX Sports 1 early season.  FS1 for the first three weeks will carry staggered tripleheaders on Saturdays plus Thursday night games, though the two C-USA games set for 9/5 and 9/12 are not yet confirmed to air on FS1.

* FSN lives on as a carrier of national college football games with the Big 12 placing at least two games on the network for all affiliate RSNs, plus at least three other games from the Big 12 which could be carried to multiple RSNs.  And as the C-USA release stated a while back, at least ten games will air on FS1, so the possibility exists that there will be at least a portion of the C-USA telecast schedule on the network

* I've received a few questions about FOX Sports 2 and why it didn't get any games.  If you ask a person from FOX right now about it, they'll tell you that there is no FOX Sports 2.  And while the LA Times' Joe Flint did report that it should appear right alongside FOX Sports 1 on August 17th, he also said it would soft launch.  It will appear without the fanfare of FOX Sports 1.  And no one really knows what its focus is, so to assume it will be carrying college football games or be used as an overflow channel isn't an incorrect assumption, but we really don't know what the plan is, if there is one.

* I was looking over the selection of Tennessee at Oregon for either ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, plus Nevada at Florida St. on either ESPN or ESPN2, plus a NASCAR Nationwide Series race from Chicagoland Speedway on 9/14.  The ESPN website currently lists the Nationwide race on ESPN2 at 3:30pm, so the schedule should look something like this:

ABC - Tennessee at Oregon (full national)
ESPN - Nevada at Florida St.
ESPN2 - Nationwide Race

* As we've also learned with the 9/14 Big 12 selections, there's a good chance we'll see an ABC window at 12pm ET on 9/14 with the selection of the Tulsa-Oklahoma game for that time.  As others have pointed out to me, UCLA-Nebraska seems to be a solid choice for an ABC game and now that there's a good chance of that window being available, it seems likely that UCLA-Nebraska, Tulsa-Oklahoma and either another SEC or Big Ten game would occupy a slot.  They could look to reverse mirror the games at 12pm over two networks.  In my option, just show them on a single channel and be done with it.

* There was some solid PR work done on the statement Ole Miss released about their road game against Texas on Longhorn Network.  ESPN gave them a heads up and said they'll work with the school to help out with distribution, something they didn't do with the New Mexico & Wyoming games (the inaugural Rice game too, though that was an in-state opponent and very few had access to the network).  An article by SBNation national writer Steven Godfrey cites a key clause as the reason to never to do a road game with Texas if you can avoid it:
Per its language, crafted in 2007, the agreement allows host-team Texas to move the broadcast of the game "via any other means of transmission not listed herein which may exist or be developed."
Contracts are a two way street, and yes Ole Miss did get the first home game in this series.  A few thoughts on this clause.

  1. If this series was agreed upon with the knowledge that the games would absolutely be on ABC, CBS or ESPN and then the SEC rights changed over to air games on NBC or Spike TV, the clause is in place because the future TV rightsholder of the conference is not known.
  2. There's an SEC Network coming up.  And I know that its widely assumed that every cable & satellite company will bow down and pick up the network, no questions asked.  But there's also a chance that someone out there who has a large swath of cable customers will say no, at least for a period of time. Does that mean you shouldn't schedule a game with a SEC school because it means your game could air on the SEC Network?
  3. We've already had one series cancelled between Texas and Minnesota where video rights were a major issue, though it may have been on the Minnesota side of the house re: BTN.
I realize that No. 2 is really a forward looking statement, and the reality of the Longhorn Network is that it isn't yet in the number of homes ESPN and Texas would like it to be.  If teams want to play Texas, but don't want the game on LHN, they're going to have to force the issue contractually or move on.