Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Random thoughts on college football & men's basketball on TV

* Have had a few people ask "Why can't they put an ESPN3 exclusive on Game Plan"?  To that I say "I don't know".  But what I do know is that Game Plan as a product has been getting phased out over the past few years.  No games in HD.  They lost the Big Ten regional games to BTN and they will lose most, if not all, of the SEC regional games next year.  The American's syndication package ends next year too.

In short, I don't see Game Plan making a tremendous comeback as something ESPN wants to push compared to ESPN3.  Frankly, if you have a good internet connection, you probably can get better picture quality off ESPN3 either via XBox, Apple TV or just hooking up your laptop to your TV.

And I think many of us will be saying the same thing about ESPN Full Court in a couple years.  The Big East and SEC were mainstays of that package.

* The wait/holdup over the 10/19 selections for the Pac-12 fascinates me.  FOX made it known that they would only have a 12pm ET selection available back in the summer.  It was known that they had MLB commitments that would last throughout the day.  It was also known that they had a pair of motorsports commitments, plus UFC prelim matches, on FOX Sports 1.  At least the motorsports conflicts were known, at least to me.  FOX only said they would have two games on FOX Sports 1 on 10/19.  One at 12pm and the other at 10pm, presumably a Pac-12 game in the latter slot.

I don't know if selection order for the week had FOX at the front of the line and the Pac-12 wasn't aware of it, or if the added Charleston Southern-Colorado game is complicating matters.  ESPN noted that the Stanford-Washington game on 10/5 was its highest rated game and it started late, not to mention it started on ESPNEWS.

So if FOX was at the top of the order this week (I do not know if that was the case and have no clue what the selection order is/was) and selected UCLA-Stanford, the game many people believe is the best available game, for FOX Sports 1, why are they being held to a different standard?  FOX is the network, after all, that gets the Pac-12 most of its broadcast network conference.  At a minimum, FOX has to air at least four Pac-12 games in primetime per season (minimum eight games overall) and ABC only has to air one Pac-12 game in primetime (just two games overall).

If there is an issue with the selection order, I would think there would be a way to resolve it.  If the game was a priority pick for FOX, I can understand the Pac-12's point.  Caveat emptor, though, Pac-12.  FOX and ESPN are paying you and you've given them some reasonable control over when 44 of your football games will kickoff.

* I looked over the FOX Sports 1 men's basketball schedule as it stands today.  I hope they ask the Big East schools to beef up their non-conference home schedules in future years.  There isn't a lot of good games, which is why many of these were just local telecasts or ESPN3 games in prior years.  A few of them will air on FSN or FOX Sports 2 instead of FOX Sports 1.

Conversely, it was a good get for FOX to sign on for several of the Barclays Center games in December.  And they made a few good non-conference selections for their ten games from Conference USA.  FOX also went heavy on the number of Pac-12 intra-conference games, with only the Marquette-Arizona St. game in non-conference play, so they got their money's worth for those 22 regular season games.

There are a few holes in the FOX Sports 1 schedule.  Not sure if they are making a play for any other conference's TV package and I don't know if there is one available to pick up.  Some of those holes are in February & March, but FOX Sports 1 does have NASCAR duties I assume particularly around the Daytona 500 and Daytona Speedweeks.

* As Conference USA schools released their TV schedules independently this week, several schools releases noted that CBS Sports Network affiliates and FOX could take additional games.  Not sure if that means that CBSSN is going to syndicate a package of C-USA games to local stations or if FOX will take more games and place them on FSN.  CBSSN managed the Atlantic 10's syndication package which seemed to disappear at the end of last season.

* FOX did list several Big 12 institutional games on their list of games as being on FSN and not just local RSNs.  In the Big 12 contract press release from last year, ESPN had the ability to sublicense an additional 20 games to a national cable outlet.  That is beyond what ESPN sublicenses to CBS.  There are roughly 20 Big 12 institutional games listed as being on FSN, so these might be games that could be optionally sublicensed or elevated by FSN.

* I really like CBS Sports Network's schedule of men's basketball.  Their sublicense packages for the Big East and American, to me, puts them on par with FOX Sports 1 and ahead of NBCSN at the moment.  Breaks down like this for the regular season:

American - 25
Atlantic 10 - 25
Big East - 18
C-USA - 10
MWC - 31
Patriot League - 12
Exempt tournaments & special events - 23 games

That's a total of 144 regular season men's basketball games.

The network will have coverage of the Mountain West quarterfinals & semifinals (6 games), the Patriot League semifinals & finals (3 games), the C-USA semifinals (2 games) and the Atlantic 10 semifinals (2 games).  C-USA lost television coverage of their quarterfinal round, which is going back to their digital network.

I swear the network had more than 53 million subscribers though.  That is the number they announced with their new deal with Time Warner Cable to be moved up to the digital TV tier.

* The goal of the sublicense agreement between ESPN and CBS Sports Network for the American Athletic Conference was to get every intraconference game on television, specifically national television.  I'd say mission accomplished.  As for non-conference play, it looks like the schools might be involved as to where those games are shown.  Louisville appears to have made a deal to get WHAS to show these games as they have in prior years, while four schools (Houston, Rutgers, SMU and USF) have these games scheduled to be shown on ESPN3.  As for the others, it would expect Memphis, Connecticut and Cincinnati to be actively involved with regional and local stations to get this portion of the schedule shown on television, while UCF may be more inclined to go the ESPN3 route.  Just a gut feeling on that one.  As for Temple, only one non-conference home game was not selected by national TV, so they may elect to go ESPN3 or without television.

* In terms of conference TV packages, here's who we haven't heard from yet for men's basketball.  Some of these outlets we might not hear from.  It is possible that only the conference championship game will be on a national platform.:
  • Atlantic Sun (ESPN Networks)
  • Big Sky (ESPN Networks & possibly ROOT Sports)
  • Big South (ESPN Networks)
  • CAA (NBCSN & NBC Regional Sports Networks)
  • Ivy League (NBCSN & any other sublicensed games)
  • MAC (ESPN Networks & Time Warner Cable)
  • MEAC (ESPN Networks)
  • NEC (ESPN Networks)
  • Southland (ESPN Networks, possibly CSN Houston)
  • Sun Belt (ESPN Networks & Sun Belt Network)
  • SWAC (ESPN Networks)
  • WAC (ESPN Networks)
  • WCC (Regional syndication through Time Warner Cable)

1 comment:

Morgan Wick said...

I seem to recall CBS Sports Network being stuck in the 30s or even 20s for a while, and one of the comments on this article from shortly before the TWC deal suggests it was around 48 million at the time: