Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A scheduling item plus some thoughts on the Dish Network-Disney agreement

EDIT: This post erroneously had the expiration date of Disney's contract w/DirecTV in 2015.  The agreement signed in 2005 was retroactive back to 2004, meaning the expiration date of the current deal is in 2014.  My apologies for the error.

I want to briefly hit on a couple items, particularly around the news of Dish Network and Disney coming together on a programming deal.

* With the news that it suspends Dish's AutoHop technology on ABC shows for three days after airing (known as the C3 ratings period) and that Dish received "over-the-top" rights to some of ESPN channels, it is a huge agreement.   Because I tend to limit what is covered here to college football and men's college basketball, I don't properly focus on the items external to those products.

But after digesting more of the items in the agreement last night and reading more items that followers on Twitter provided, I think it has scope changing items, similar to the agreement Disney did with Time Warner Cable.  That agreement set the precedent of tying access to ESPN3 to a subscription to the appropriate tier of channels that carried ESPN.  Two years later on the opening week of college football season, live programming from ESPN & ESPN2 was split out of ESPN3 and set aside as part of the WatchESPN product.

Here are three articles & blog posts that brought up excellent points.

Wireless Week
JMan Media Zone

* For a lot of college football fans, the confirmation of the SEC Network (and Longhorn Network) being tied into the deal was a huge deal.  Similar to the deal with AT&T U-Verse, the Dish deal bring a competitor to traditional cable if they elect not to sign up for the service.

Where does it leave DirecTV?  It puts them in an interesting spot.  The agreement with Disney and DirecTV ends in late September of 2014.  DirecTV CEO Michael White has previously stated they weren't interesting in renegotiating for access to ESPN3 and WatchESPN services until their contract is up.  Does this force their hand?

I know that the Pac-12 had their campaign around dumping DirecTV for another service to get the network, with Cal AD Sandy Barbour providing proof of her home receiving Comcast service and dumping DirecTV.  But I also had a fair number of folks who were not interested in dumping the service right away due to contracts with DirecTV for service.

With this news, I can't tell you how many folks have either messaged me or responded to Twitter posts about how they would gladly pay off the DirecTV contract to get out from under it to get SEC Network or if the choice was to be made between NFL Sunday Ticket or SEC Network, SEC Network would win.

It should be a interesting 4-5 months.  DirecTV has decisions to make.

* Arizona had a pair of games moved to weeknights yesterday, with their game vs. UNLV moved to Friday night 8/29 and the road game at UTSA to Thursday 9/4.  A common programmer in these items is FOX, who is a rightsholder to both C-USA and the Pac-12.

FOX has MLB programming on FOX Sports 1 every Saturday during the season, including 8/30 and 9/6.  Airing games on Thursday and/or Friday through September may alleviate some scheduling issues with other events instead of being forced to move events to FOX Sports 2.

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