Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ten Years Gone...

That's a Led Zeppelin song off Physical Graffiti.  It is how long I've been compiling TV listings for college football and basketball as of the end of the 2013-14 athletic year.  The first year (2004) was at the now-defunct, the last nine on my own website.

I never set out to do this for ten years.  I can't say I want to do this for ten more years either.  I had hoped to do it for no more than five and move on.  I started doing this was because a friend and I had recently bought DirecTV systems and wanted to know how many college football games we could get access to on a given Saturday compared to our cable systems.  I had moved from Western NY to Northeast Ohio and for the first time had full time access to FOX Sports Net (our WNY affiliate, the late Empire Sports Network, was only part time and eventually cancelled its affiliation on the way to being dissolved).  I posted the listings on a few other boards on the net and after the '04 season decided to get a centralized home for it.   It began to take off from there to the point where it received visibility in the Los Angeles Times and this past summer, Athlon noted it as one of the 100 college football accounts to follow this past offseason.

The college basketball side came along for the ride and has usually been the bigger beast to track because you're dealing with roughly 50% more schools compared to football and compared to football, though I kinda enjoy it a little bit more.  Maybe because things are more entrenched in place and not really flexible.  If basketball had 12 day picks for all tip times, this site and blog wouldn't exist.  Thankfully its only a handful.

At the same time, my own career needed a place to grow.  As a computer programmer, my work in COBOL & mainframe programming was OK, but as someone at the time just turning 30, I needed a sandbox to work on web development, work that I wanted to transition into.  At that point, the site needed a proper home because the free home I had been using didn't have the proper "back end" to do the programming I wanted.  The guts of the site behind the scenes is the main reason today why the site still stands.  It has been rewritten three times, each time due to advances in technology as I've gained more knowledge and different assignments at work.

Not to bore you but simple HTML tables -> Windows Forms -> Windows Forms w/database storage (dynamically generated HTML) -> .Net MVC, jQuery and some tweaks this past summer to make it more responsive for mobile devices.  While the site probably looks extremely plain to you, there is plenty flying around backstage to make sure each page gets served up properly and, hopefully, in a reasonable amount of time to you the end user.

This blog has allowed me to occasionally write about TV rights items and bring things to the forefront that you the viewer might not be aware of.  I'd like to do more of it if I could, but I admit that the blog is often more reactionary than it is news breaking, if it has ever truly broken any news.  If I were to keep track of a batting average of the analysis and the 12 day pick guesses, its probably less than 20% right, but at times I do enjoy sticking my neck out and running through these scenarios as long as I think I have a solid foundation to base the analysis on.  You've contributed to that as well, correcting me when I've glossed over or forgotten something.

And here we are today.  Its been an interesting ten years.  I've been blessed with a solid group of followers on Twitter since that account was started and it has grown mostly through word of mouth and when I've visited many message boards, you've been good to me with allowing me to give you my opinion, along with me taking your points of view and reflecting on them.  You've also been very good about correcting me when I've been wrong, which is a lot.  I've worked jointly with other sites at times and they've been very good to me and by extension, to you the site visitor as well.  Many media members, conference and school officials, television staffers and executives have been very generous to me, and again by extension, you the visitor as well.  Without their honesty and generosity when it came to answering a question or getting an item clarified, this site and blog wouldn't be what it has been.

Over the past ten years we've seen
  • Internet streaming of television become more prevalent.  We now demand a network, or its content, be available via digital means vs. exclusively on television.
    • Internet exclusive games rose exponentially
  • The ways to consume content changed from just televisions & laptops to include handheld devices such as mobile phone & tablets.  
  • Conferences starting their own television networks to generate more revenue
  • Broadcast networks convert or buy channels to have a cable sports division
    • CSTV -> CBS College Sports -> CBS Sports Network
    • OLN -> Versus -> NBC Sports Network
    • SPEED -> FOX Sports 1 (though FOX did have FSN)
  • All four major broadcast English speaking broadcast networks regularly televise college football on Saturdays
  • Concepts such as the reverse mirror, sublicensing and what amounts to sharing rights (ie. Big 12 & Pac-12 where FOX & ABC seem to be co-rights holders instead of a clear #1 or #2)
  • Less and less games every year go without video, either on TV or webcasts
  • Nearly all major bowl games move from broadcast television to pay television
  • High definition became the norm, the standard, the requirement
  • Syndication packages come and go, to the point that only one on that was around in '04 will remain in '14 (ACC Network/Raycom) and that's only because of sublicensing
  • Contracts that were made, well, to be broken, renegotiated and require a bit of compromise to get games on the air.
  • A college football playoff for the bowl subdivision.
  • The NCAA tournament went from being mostly regional the first weekend and the Sweet Sixteen to a four channel affair where every game is national
Not everything has been roses.  I admit that I've had more burnout moments over the past few years and for that I am sorry if you've been on the wrong side of those.

Television became a reason for conferences to expanded and schools to move on, sometimes unnecessarily in the name of the almighty dollar at the expense of rivalries that have yet to restart and may never be played again.  I'm not naive to the notion that there is a lot of money flying around and the athletes who we cheer for don't necessarily reap all of the rewards of that cash, but that is another story that is going to be debated about for years to come.  I'm also not naive to the fact that the school I mostly root for (Syracuse) was one of those who moved on to another conference for the cash.

This weekend I'll be mostly unavailable.  The bowl schedule will updated when I can before Sunday, then finalized late on Sunday night.  I have better things to do.  Hope you understand.  Anyways, thanks for stopping by and reading.  


Unknown said...

As someone who has followed your site for the better part of a decade, thanks for the work you've done. Feel free to reach out if you ever want to bounce MVC/jQuery questions or ideas off someone.

Sean OLeary said...

I love your site.

Mark Hart said...

Matt, I stumbled upon your site during the summer of 2006 and used it extensively for logistical planning during the 2006-2009 seasons while I was recording all of the football games and have still checked in regularly since then. I want to extend a huge "thank you" for the hard work that you put into making the schedules for each week's football and basketball games. When/if the burnout finally gets to you, I think that we will all understand and applaud you for a great run with the website -- I hope that you don't ever feel obligated to keep the updating the site, if it becomes tedious and unfulfilling. Hope you have a great holiday season!

Mike said...

This site is incredible. What a resource!

Unknown said...

Does the MAC and Sun Belt have syndication packages too?

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Please see the football portion of my site.

Anonymous said...

Your site is one of the biggest reasons I started my own blog for fans in my neck of the woods (specifically southern Ontario and Canadians in general) to give them information about college football schedules since it can be quite different than what you can get in the U.S. Thank you for your hard work. You owe us all nothing at this point if you need to step away.

Unknown said...

Matt - I can't thank you enough for your efforts on this site/blog/twitter account. I visit MANY times any given day and your work inspired me to track the same kind of things myself (from a B1G-centric perspective) via far more primitive means like Excel spreadsheets & local Word documents. The media/TV contracts side of sports (complicated and I'd imagine frustrating as it is) interests me more than it ever has thanks to people like you, the506 and Kevin @ fbschedules.

So, thank you Matt! Truly appreciate all you do!

smokeybandit said...

This site is much appreciated Matt. You need to find a trustworthy way to let the community help you update your grids so you don't have to do it all yourself.

Unknown said...

Matt, I don't even know how many years I've been coming here, but it's been at least 3 or 4. While it doesn't truly compensate you for the time that you've spent on it, do you have any sort of way for us to give you some money for your web server, etc.? I'm sure I'm not the only one who would love to give back for all the dedication you've put into the site.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I appreciate the offer, but I think it would mess with how I go about declaring the site with respect to taxes. In short, the DNS and hosting fees are my only deduction, so I'd like to keep that alive.

Unknown said...

As a huge fan of both college football and basketball, I can't give thanks enough for this site. Rarely does a day go by when I'm not checking it multiple times a day. It makes finding the multitude of games available on DIRECTV much, much easier.

highwaychile said...

I've been following your site for several years as well Matt. You do a tremendous job and an invaluable service for college sports junkies such as myself. I reference the site numerous times weekly as I plot out my viewing strategy for multiple screens. Thanks so much for your efforts!