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.

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