Monday, August 26, 2013

Some ground rules for 2013

Good morning.  Games begin to kick off this Thursday.  Since I have several new followers, here's a few reminders, personal opinions, an FAQ of sorts, to help you and to help me keep my sanity as men's basketball listings and football telecast changes come out all at once.  This, like tax season for accountants, is my "busy season".

* ABC regional coverage and reverse mirror maps tend to come out on Wednesdays.  They might get tweaked into Thursday or Friday if a station wishes to switch out to another game.  I do not create the maps or have any insight into why a local station made the decision it did.  If you have a question, contact your local station.

* Saturday kickoff times for many conferences are not set until twelve days in advance, with a few exceptions late in the year.  Depending on the conference, their TV partners and the contracts in place, they could set their television plans as little as six days in advance.  There are also situations where a television partner may set a game for a particular time and television options and then finalize the TV network six days in advance.  In short, if it isn't listed yet, count back 12 days from the kickoff date and that should determine when you will see a television announcement for a game.

* Telecast windows change slightly.  Sometimes ABC will reverse mirror a primetime game to ESPN.   FOX might have other events on their networks which move things around slightly.  I don't work for any television entity.  I like to believe I have a decent rapport with them to possibly get a question or two answered, but I am not a representative of any of these networks.

* I don't know why ESPN/FOX/CBS/ABC chose Game X over Game Y.  I'm not an unfeeling person when it comes to that, but I have lesser concerns about that.  I'll watch online if that's what I have to do and if it is an option.

* The Pac-12 Networks are still not on DirecTV.  They don't appear to be making it into the channel lineup anytime soon.   The conference has its own marketing campaign around dropping DirecTV.  That's up to you and your personal situation, as cancelling DirecTV may not be as simple as a phone call based on your contractual situation with the TV provider.

* For that matter, assume that WatchESPN won't be on DirecTV anytime soon either.  At least not for this season unless both sides decide to renegotiate a contract that has at least another year to go.  Dish Network could be a different story as the ESPN contract with Dish expires at the end of September.

* Sometimes, I know why a game is blacked out in your area.  Most of the time, I don't.  If your pay television provider is blacking out a game incorrectly, contact them, the network in question, or the conference.

Many of these networks, conferences and pay television providers have Twitter and Facebook pages.  I am not suggesting that you should get an account to either of these services, but they may have posts there that explain why you aren't seeing a game.

* I really hate predicting television times for people more than a week or two out.  Networks have tons of data to go by when they put a game in a particular time slot and rules they have to follow (ie. appearances by teams) and I don't know every one of them.

And if you are asking me re: travel, you really shouldn't be relying on me for that, particularly if you're trying to book a flight.  Close the email program or social media app.  And as I said before, networks can alter their telecast times.  My advice to you: If you fly on the day of the game, book the first flight in or get there the previous evening.

* FSN regional listings are tentative (really all regional listings are).  It looks like the FSN produced Big 12 and C-USA telecasts are not being syndicated to over the air television.  MASN2 looks like they will have the games available in their in-market area starting with this season.  If you've seen or heard anything concrete, let me know.  But I'll probably be relying on the sheets that FOX provides to C-USA and the Big 12.

* If I don't acknowledge your question on Gmail, Twitter or Facebook, it could be for a myriad of reasons.  The biggest one could be that I have a day job (this blog and accompanying site are not it), one that pays the bills, and I am focused on that.  It's also quite possible that I either want to research something before I answer you.  So its possible that you'll be ignored.  Please don't take offense.

And please, before you post or write, check to see if I've posted something there about it or on my site to see if I've listed a game.  There's a chance its there.

* I'm often not at home on Saturday, depending on when Syracuse is playing (they are my team, but I did not go to school there).  Believe it or not, after getting the listings set, I tend to leave the house and listen to a game or two on radio.  My F-150 has high miles for a 3 year old because of that, but at least I didn't lease it.

* I really don't care who is announcing the game and I don't post them on my site.  Does it annoy me if an announcer is factually incorrect about something?  Sure, but it doesn't hamper any part of my viewing experience.  Don't let it hamper yours.  The PxP guy and the analyst have never caught a TD, picked off a pass or fumbled the ball while working the game.

And no matter how good an announcer is, he can't shine up a turd of a game into gold.  If its a 6-3 cluster with scads of turnovers, its not a great game no matter who the PxP guy is.

* Enjoy the games.  Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Week Five CFB Guesses

* FSN's window has moved to 4pm.
* I do realize that I stuffed for Florida schools into the 12pm window.
* Thinking that ESPN will have access to top Big 12 & Pac-12 games available. FOX should still have a quality Pac-12 choice for their broadcast slot.
* I give LSU-Georgia the edge over Ole Miss-Alabama for the CBS slot. If CBS took the Alabama game, you could slide the A&M-Arkansas game to 9:15 and Georgia to 7pm. Might also have to flip who has the 6pm & reverse mirror games to make that work.

12pm ABC: South Carolina at UCF
12pm ESPN: Florida St. at Boston College
12pm ESPN2: Miami (FL) at USF
12pm FOX Sports 1: SMU at TCU
12pm ESPNU: Northern Illinois at Purdue
12pm BTN: Miami (OH) at Illinois
12:21pm SEC Network: Florida at Kentucky
12:30pm ACC Network: Virginia at Pittsburgh
12:30pm ACC RSNs: East Carolina at North Carolina
3pm Pac-12: California at Oregon (game selected by Pac-12, but time not confirmed)
3:30pm CBS: LSU at Georgia
3:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Iowa at Minnesota (semi-confirmed)
3:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Oklahoma St. at West Virginia
3:30pm ESPNU: Southern Miss at Boise St.
4pm FOX Sports 1: Army vs. Louisiana Tech
4pm FSN: Houston at UTSA
6pm ESPN: Wake Forest at Clemson
7pm FOX: Arizona at Washington
7pm ESPN2: Texas A&M at Arkansas
7pm ESPNU: UAB at Vanderbilt
7:30pm SEC/FSN Regional: Arkansas St. at Missouri
7:30pm SEC/CSS: South Alabama at Tennessee
8pm ABC: Wisconsin at Ohio St. (semi-confirmed)
9:15pm ESPN: Ole Miss at Alabama
10:30pm ESPN2: USC at Arizona St.
10:30pm ESPNU: Stanford at Washington St.
10:30pm Pac-12: Colorado at Oregon St.

ESPN3 Exclusives
Central Michigan at NC State
Troy at Duke
Connecticut at Buffalo
Navy at Western Kentucky

Friday, August 23, 2013

What's new for CFB on TV in 2013

I realize I missed a few items.  Here's what came to mind immediately re: changes to CFB telecasts for 2013.

* Changes at FOX

  • FOX - Only one game per Saturday, with the exception of Championship Saturday.
  • F/X - No more football
  • FSN - A slightly lighter schedule of FOX produced national games
  • FOX Sports 1 - They've gained a few of the FOX broadcast telecasts plus the games from F/X and a decent number of games that appeared previously on FSN.  Usually will have a Thursday night game, plus 2-3 games every Saturday.
  • FOX Sports Go - The new online component to FOX Sports gets an incomplete because it wasn't ready to go with FOX Sports 1.
* Regional Sports Networks & Syndication
  • MSG & YES - These two will split the ACC RSN package.
  • ROOT Sports Pittsburgh - Will show the ACC RSN package
  • SportsTime Ohio - Purchased by FOX at the end of 2012.  Per their September TV schedule, they will carry a few ACC RSN and FOX produced FSN telecasts
  • MASN or MASN2 - May have become an affiliate of FSN
  • ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain & Northwest - The new regional rightsholder to Mountain West sports
  • Final season of syndicated telecasts for the American Athletic Conference & SEC.  SEC is expected to move their content to the new 24/7 SEC Network in the summer of 2014.  The American has had some of its content sublicensed to CBS Sports Network starting with 2013-14 for basketball, 2014 for football.
* National items of note
  • ESPNEWS will carry some games, at least at the beginning of the season.  They'll have a presence during college basketball too.
  • WatchABC will be available for some to stream national ABC games to their laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
  • As of this date, no games involving FBS teams on NBCSN, which is the new moniker NBC Sports Network is branding itself as.  The Mountain West took their games elsewhere and the chase for the rights to the conference now known as the American Athletic Conference ended up with them on the outside looking in.
  • RIP ESPN 3D.  At least for now.
  • CBS picked up the Mountain West championship game rights for the next two years and I believe an option for a third.  
* Conference related items
  • Mountain West - More games on CBS Sports Network, a new package on ESPN, the previously mentioned regional package on ROOT Sports and a streaming package managed by Campus Insiders.  The streaming package will have an exclusive package of games, plus the out-of-market rights to ROOT Sports games along with any other games provided to it by the conference's schools.
  • Patriot League - A new Campus Insiders video package that most schools will take advantage of.
  • WAC - RIP as a football conference.
  • MAC - Moves to Time Warner Cable for a regional TV partner

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts I wrote out last week, then waited for the dust to settle before releasing them

* This first bullet point was meant for the possibility of FOX and various distributors not coming to an agreement for FOX Sports 1.  May this bullet point rest in peace.

* Someone asked me about whether FOX Sports 1 could sublicense any American Athletic Conference games this year.  Counting up the FOX, FOX Sports 1 and FSN telecast windows and there are 15 on FOX, 14 on FSN (excluding four games that are part of the Big 12 institutional package) and 52 on FOX Sports 1.

Conference USA takes up 20 slots (all selected).  The Pac-12 has 22 (11 selected, 11 open).  That should leave the Big 12 with 39 slots (9 selected, 30 open).  41 open selections across those three networks.

Overall, the Big 12 should have 58 games for their national packages.  19 on ABC and various ESPN platforms and the rest (39) of FOX, after excluding one game per team that appears as part of each school's institutional package.  ABC/ESPN has taken five games so far (Tulsa-Oklahoma, TCU-Texas Tech, Texas-Iowa St., Ole Miss-Texas & Kansas-Texas).  FOX has taken nine as noted above. There are 44 remaining games to be chosen.  Assuming ESPN takes its remaining fourteen selections, FOX has 30 selections remaining.

In short, the math works out.  The number of television windows that FOX has set aside matches the available games that they can pick up.  Unless FOX adds games windows, they will not be sublicensing games from the American or any other conference this year.

* There hasn't been any indicator that FOX Sports 2 (the channel soon to be formerly known as Fuel TV) will carry any college sports.  I don't know that FOX will use it for overflow either.  I would not yet get worked up over it if you don't have it, unless you have interest in the programming on the channel.

* The question has been asked: Is the (Dish/DirecTV/telco or cable sports tier with FOX College Sports) worth it for FSN telecasts?  I think the answer depends on where you live and where your interests lie.  There will be a few Big 12 and Conference USA conference games on FSN this season.  It also looks like a few more RSNs will have interest in the ACC RSN package that will run most afternoons.  If you're in a single FOX RSN area, or reside in a Comcast RSN area, it may be worth weighing those costs.  You may, depending on blackout enforcement, may see games from other conferences as well through those sports packages that are not attached to FSN.

* Speaking of an RSN package of games, Bob Rathbun says the following weekends will have SEC games on FOX RSNs.

FSN has two SEC games on 9/7.  I'm guessing that Bob won't be working both.  The game on 11/9 should be an early afternoon game due to the CBS primetime doubleheader.

* I have heard nothing about a possible MAC regional package on FOX Sports, either on FOX Sports Ohio or SportsTime Ohio.  The MAC media guide listed one Northern Illinois on CSN Chicago and the Bowling Green media guide lists two games on Buckeye Cable, but no other regional games for the Ohio schools.  STO has not yet released an online schedule for September.

* MSG and YES will both carry up to ten Big East basketball games in addition to splitting the ACC's regional sports network package.  It is hard to get a read on where and when FOX will be providing these games during the season.  Will they be part of a "game of the week" package during the conference season or are these non-conference games?  The conference is essentially dark to most of the public eye with the conference website still being built and, according to ESPN, a conference staff is still being formed.  The Big East basketball schedule is being constructed now that the conference knows what NHL and NBA conflicts its member schools have to work around.  We know of the five games on New Years' Eve, which appeared on the release touting the hiring of Bill Raftery (those games were scrubbed from the public press release & appeared on a draft version), plus the Super Saturday pair of games and the entire conference tournament on FOX Sports 1.

* CBS has picked up the Mountain West football championship game.  It will be a 10pm Eastern start time, which is later than a lot of sporting events that have aired live on network television, save for some Olympic events or NBA & NCAA games during the early-mid 80s.  If the conference demanded a widely viewed platform, CBS had to serve up the broadcast network.  I'm under the assumption that the conference and CBS had a fixed period of time to negotiate for the game or it could have went out to the open market.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Mountain West, their ESPN contract and streaming vs. lower penetration on TV

If you have read my Twitter timeline in the last twelve hours, you have seen a fair amount of tweets regarding the Mountain West basketball television schedule and a few things come to mind:
  • It took CBS Sports Network and CBS nearly eight years, and what appears to be the dumping of Comcast as a sublicensing partner, to finally get some good use out of their MWC package.  A restructured contract certainly helps, but the network finally made the commitment to their own network to show these games.  Cue some complaints from BYU, TCU and Utah fans about this, but they also know they are in better places.
  • That's a lot of games on ESPN3 in basketball.  Glimpse into how ESPN will handle the football package?  More on that later.
  • In the past the conference has let the teams release things on their own, then the conference office does a release weeks later compiling the TV info.  All nice and well, but you have a brand new website.  Why not get some mileage out of it now for disseminating information?  There's also the fact that some schools listed TV games that the opposing school did not, so by letting the schools handle it, they've ended up possibly making errors.  No consistency in the message.  I've said this before when schools have changed website hosts: Content management is a two way street.  A new host/website is as only as good as the people who are charged with making decisions about what appears on the site.
First, the ESPN package - I received a few replies that noted there are only two games on ESPN2, not to mention that they are in the same calendar week.  Like you, I was surprised that there weren't other games on ESPN or ESPN2.  If you couple it with the eight ESPNU games (let's take Air Force vs. Army out of the equation as it is part of the Armed Forces Classic), that's ten games.  It is the same number of games that aired on NBC Sports Network last season.  Is the ESPN package a direct replacement of the NBCSN package?  Maybe.  Not in terms of the contractual nature of NBC's package as a sublicense, but possibly in the number of games.

So what does that mean for football?  Let's remove Rutgers at Fresno St. since it was part of a sublicense/game trade with CBS Sports Network.  Without that one, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU have seven games so far.  One more Boise St. game has to appear on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, so either the Southern Miss, Wyoming or New Mexico home game will appear on one of those nets.  After that, it will depend on what slots ESPN has open.  NBCSN televised ten games last year, so if meeting the NBCSN game count was required, two other MW games will air on television.

Next, the balance of CBS Sports Network vs. ESPN3 - Mountain West fans haven't been the only ones to bring this up.  So have fans of the American Athletic Conference.  Is it better to be on a traditional medium like CBS Sports Network, even if it the channel is subscribed to by only around 5/8ths of the homes who can get ESPN3 (note: CBS Sports Network often touts availability, not subscribers, though its tough to find accurate numbers for them)?  Kansas went the route of out-of-market ESPN3 streaming for a handful of out-of-conference football & basketball, plus other sports with in-market rights to Time Warner Cable.  Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples noted that we're becoming a society that doesn't really think twice anymore when it comes to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV, the latter now providing ESPN3 a platform.  The Pac-12 Networks, BTN and SEC Network will all utilize it for specialty content, plus the out-of-home viewing experience.  NBC Sports Network utilizes for live events, some taped events (F1 in some cases) and their Extra Time coverage of the Barclays Premier League.  The internet, provided that you have the proper speed required to get good quality, is clearly that next frontier.

But what about the "casual" viewer, channel surfing on a Saturday?  He may not have access to a CBS Sports Network game.  I admit to not being a casual fan so I may not be the right person to gauge their point-of-view.  My thoughts on that line of thinking:
  • CBS Sports Network is still targeted towards sports packages on cable.  Is that casual viewer even paying for that package?  I'm not sure they are.
  • If they are looking for college football on a Saturday, they are more likely to gravitate towards broadcast networks and ESPN.  Even with FOX's PR machine pulling out all the stops with FOX Sports 1, it will take some time to get ramp up there.  And CBS Sports Network, even with history of television Division I FBS football since 2004, still isn't in that conversation.
CBS Sports Network is the incumbent for the Mountain West, but it is no longer the sole rightsholder.  Frankly, the "we're taking a slow, methodical approach" really shouldn't cut it for the conference anymore, nor for the folks at the network.  Distribution needs to move upward.  Fast.  They need to get back on the stick when it comes to a companion online option for these games, which disappeared after CBS bought the channel.  Especially since they are the primary partner and seem to have the best football and men's basketball games for the conference.  If I were the conference, I would have given CBS those "priority picks" on a conditional basis and tie them to channel distribution.  In other words, CBS has to make efforts to increase distribution to keep selecting games at the top.  CBS has seven years until the next rights negotiation with the conference, but being at a number slightly north of 50 million homes doesn't cut it anymore.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Current MW 2013-14 MBK Television Schedule

Much easier to lay this out in a table format.  These are games that are part of the MW TV deal, so San Diego St. at Kansas is not listed here.  All times ET.  Will add more as announced.  Waiting on Colorado St., San Jose St. and New Mexico to announce games. Four dates are flex dates so one game will air on ESPNU, the other on ESPN3.

So far...

CBS Sports Network - 29
ESPN3 - 22 (includes four flex slots)
ESPNU - 9 (includes four flex slots)
ESPN2 - 2

Air Force vs. ArmyESPNU HD11/8/2013 1:00:00 PM (Lexington, VA)
Arizona at San Diego St.CBS Sports Network HD11/14/2013 10:00:00 PM
Arizona St. at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD11/19/2013 10:00:00 PM
Illinois at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD11/26/2013 10:45:00 PM
Colorado at Colorado St.ESPN312/3/2013 TBA
Cincinnati at New MexicoCBS Sports Network HD12/7/2013 TBA
Washington at San Diego St.CBS Sports Network HD12/8/2013 3:00:00 PM
New Mexico St. at New MexicoESPN312/17/2013 TBA
UNLV at Fresno St.ESPN31/1/2014 TBA
San Diego St. at Colorado St.CBS Sports Network HD1/1/2014 9:00:00 PM
Fresno St. at Boise St.ESPN31/4/2014 TBA
Colorado St. at New MexicoESPNU HD1/4/2014 6:00:00 PM
Nevada at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD1/8/2014 9:15:00 PM
New Mexico at WyomingESPNU HD/ESPN31/8/2014 11:00:00 PM
Boise St. at San Diego St.ESPNU HD/ESPN31/8/2014 11:00:00 PM
Wyoming at Boise St.ESPN31/11/2014 TBA
San Diego St. at Air ForceESPN31/12/2014 TBA
Fresno St. at San Diego St.ESPN31/15/2014 TBA
UNLV at New MexicoCBS Sports Network HD1/15/2014 9:00:00 PM
UNLV at San Diego St.CBS Sports Network HD1/18/2014 TBA
Utah St. at Boise St.ESPN31/18/2014 TBA
New Mexico at Fresno St.ESPN31/18/2014 TBA
Boise St. at New MexicoCBS Sports Network HD1/21/2014 9:15:00 PM
San Diego St. at San Jose St.ESPN31/22/2014 TBA
Utah St. at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD1/22/2014 11:00:00 PM
San Diego St. at Utah St.ESPNU HD/ESPN31/25/2014 11:00:00 PM
New Mexico at Colorado St.ESPNU HD/ESPN31/25/2014 11:00:00 PM
Fresno St. at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD1/25/2014 TBA (UNLV does not list TV)
New Mexico at Utah St.ESPNU HD1/28/2014 11:00:00 PM
UNLV at San Jose St.ESPN31/29/2014 TBA
Boise St. at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD2/1/2014 TBA
Colorado St. at San Diego St.ESPNU HD2/1/2014 7:00:00 PM
San Diego St. at Boise St.CBS Sports Network HD2/5/2014 9:15:00 PM
UNLV at Colorado St.ESPNU HD/ESPN32/5/2014 11:00:00 PM
Wyoming at New MexicoESPNU HD/ESPN32/5/2014 11:00:00 PM
Nevada at San Diego St.ESPN32/8/2014 TBA
Wyoming at UNLVESPN32/8/2014 TBA
Boise St. at Utah St.CBS Sports Network HD2/8/2014 TBA
Utah St. at Colorado St.CBS Sports Network HD2/11/2014 9:15:00 PM
San Diego St. at WyomingESPNU HD2/11/2014 11:00:00 PM
New Mexico at Boise St.CBS Sports Network HD2/12/2014 9:15:00 PM
UNLV at Utah St.CBS Sports Network HD2/15/2014 TBA
Air Force at San Diego St.CBS Sports Network HD2/15/2014 TBA 
Nevada at New MexicoCBS Sports Network HD2/15/2014 TBA
Boise St. at Colorado St.ESPNU HD/ESPN32/18/2014 TBA (probably 11pm)
Utah St. at San Diego St.ESPNU HD/ESPN32/18/2014 11:00:00 PM
New Mexico at UNLVESPN2 HD2/19/2014 11:00:00 PM
UNLV at Boise St.CBS Sports Network HD2/22/2014 TBA
San Diego St. at New MexicoESPN2 HD2/22/2014 10:00:00 PM
Utah St. at New MexicoCBS Sports Network HD2/25/2014 9:00:00 PM
San Jose St. at San Diego St.CBS Sports Network HD2/25/2014 11:00:00 PM
Boise St. at Fresno St.CBS Sports Network HD2/26/2014 9:00:00 PM
Colorado St. at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD2/26/2014 11:00:00 PM
Boise St. at WyomingCBS Sports Network HD3/1/2014 TBA
San Diego St. at Fresno St.CBS Sports Network HD3/1/2014 TBA
UNLV at Air ForceESPN33/1/2014 TBA
New Mexico at NevadaESPN33/2/2014 TBA
Air Force at New MexicoESPN33/5/2014 TBA
San Diego St. at UNLVCBS Sports Network HD3/5/2014 11:00:00 PM
New Mexico at San Diego St.CBS Sports Network HD3/8/2014 TBA
Boise St. at Air ForceESPN33/8/2014 TBA (BSU does not list TV)
UNLV at NevadaESPN33/8/2014 10:00:00 PM