Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Regarding the West Virginia-Texas Men's Basketball Game on 2/22

On Saturday night, West Virginia visits Texas and the game will be on the Longhorn Network.  And that's where the problems start.  The network is quasi-regional and if you've at a map lately, West Virginia is nowhere near Texas.  So while three other Big 12 intraconference men's basketball games involving Texas have aired on LHN, those three schools either reside in Texas (TCU, Texas Tech) or a state bordering Texas (Oklahoma) that made a deal to carry the network.

I saw this on's message board and Charleston Daily Mail writer Mike Casazza tweeted this item last night.

First item that I found somewhat notable is IMG.  IMG manages WVU's multimedia & sponsorship rights and they manage Texas's rights too.   They were part of the negotiations that created the Longhorn Network.  I believe they ceded operational control of the television rights to ESPN.

ESPN has the rights to 100-105 Big 12 games. I can't definitely say that Longhorn Network games are part of that count in men's basketball, where any game played on LHN after Texas's institutional telecast does count towards ESPN's football game count.  Here's what counts:

  • National games on ESPN or ESPN2
    • Games sublicensed to CBS or any other over-the-air network fall under this count
  • Up to 40 games on ESPNU
  • Regional games branded as the Big 12 Network
I count 44 "national" games, 39 Big 12 Network games, 24 games on ESPNU and one game on ESPNEWS, which puts ESPN's count at 108.  This includes the conference tournament.  After that, I believe games revert back to each school, specifically the home teams.  Which is why LHN has Saturday night's game.

As I stated earlier, West Virginia is nowhere near Texas and the other schools Texas faced as Big 12 opponents this year.  However, this is not new.  They've hosted Iowa St. and Kansas St. on the network, though it looks like Cox Cable in Kansas may had access to LHN based on when they signed their deal to carry the network.  

I don't know if ESPN has ever negotiated with a cable company to place the network in West Virginia.  IMG's partner for West Virginia is West Virginia Media Holdings, who in turn granted a lot of their live game content over to ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.  My assumption is that WVU was considering renting production equipment in Maybe there is a concern about the game being shown on systems like DirecTV or Dish Network where LHN is not being carried at this time.  

A compromise could be to carry the game on local over-the-air affiliates with the LHN production, like they did with the Ole Miss football game this year.  I'd like to see a compromise be made.   Maybe this is something the Big 12 needs to revisit at their spring meetings.

Consider this though: WVU's game vs. TCU on ROOT Sports later this year is not airing on FOX Sports Southwest.  I wonder why.

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