Friday, March 14, 2014

Notes on Big Ten, CSS closing and other schedule items

* Asked around regarding how Big Ten TV partners would handle the additional inventory of football games  with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland, which would be around 14 additional games starting in 2014.  It is my understanding that ESPN's networks, which currently carry 41 Big Ten controlled games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, will see a bump in the number of games they be allowed to carry.  I do not know how large that increase is.

I would assume that since ESPN is seeing an increase in the number of football games, they may also see an increase in the number of basketball games.  I do not know if CBS will inherit any more Big Ten appearances as part of their contract for men's basketball or if any terms have changed around BTN.

* With the SEC Network on its way, Comcast and Charter will shut down the CSS regional network managed out of Atlanta on June 1st.  The network carried SEC content that will end up on the SEC Network, along with a lot of C-USA content from sublicensed from CBS Sports Network.  They also carried basketball from the Atlantic Sun and Southern conferences, managed the Sun Belt Network package along with Cox Sports Television in Louisiana and carried some self-produced content from the College of Charleston.

I don't know who will pick up the slack from CSS when it comes to C-USA.  FOX Sports Regional Networks and affiliates cover a lot of the territory, so CBS could sublicense some of their content to FOX.  CBS could also facilitate some point to point telecasts with local cable systems.  They could continue to work with Comcast through CSN Houston, though that regional network has its own set of struggles right now.

It also makes you wonder about the status of Cox Sports TV, as they no longer have any rights to Pelicans games.  They do have rights to Saints preseason games, but also have a lot of rights to content from LSU and Arkansas that will be moving over to the SEC Network.

All of the conferences mentioned have either conference branded digital networks (C-USA, A-Sun) or have invested in technology to have their games webcast via ESPN (many A-Sun schools on their own).  The Sun Belt had many football games on ESPN3 and the SoCon went away from a traditional TV rights deal a few years ago to go with conference branded packages on ESPN3.

* With basketball season coming to a close, I had someone ask me why ESPN games tend to be listed at the top of a timeslot in many of my listings.  Allow me to bring you into my thought process.

The listed order for a particular time slot is usually done by the number of subscribing homes for a particular channel.  Over the air channels come first, then pay TV channels.  If you look at the 2012 CFB listings, F/X games often came ahead of ESPN/ESPN2 because for a period of time, F/X had more subscribing homes.  You'll notice that FOX Sports 1 and NBCSN come before ESPNU because those two networks are in more homes.

After national cable channels, I try to list by regional sports network(s), syndication package, local over the air station then local cable.  Internet exclusives come last.

With football, I list FBS games for a timeslot first, then FCS games.

Is the system perfect?  Hardly and there are probably a ton of examples where I don't follow it.  Some might find it exclusionary since the FBS games are listed first.  It is the best I can do and sometimes I am relying on subscriber data that may be out of date.  But I want to be clear that no one particular network is favored over another.

* It kinda slipped by that SMU-Baylor was moved to Sunday 8/31.   If it airs on ESPN, I expect it to be a mid-afternoon game.  The MEAC/SWAC challenge game has been paired with an FBS game on ESPN the past couple years with the HBCU game at noon ET.  ESPN has NASCAR in the evening and ESPN2 picks up Sunday Night Baseball at that point.  ESPN2 may also have coverage of the US Open tennis event too.

If the game is on FOX Sports 1, I think it will be in the evening.  FS1 has a Truck Series race on Sunday afternoon and I'm thinking they'll go into some pre-race coverage of the NASCAR race that ESPN will be running.  After that, the schedule should be open.

I think FOX also takes on the bulk of showing NASCAR practice and qualifying that weekend.  I think there's a small chance they only air a C-USA or Pac-12 football game on Saturday 8/30 with the remaining Big 12 games set aside as 3rd tier/institutional games.

* On my Twitter feed, I floated the idea of UCLA-Texas on 9/13 airing on Longhorn Network and I don't think I got my point across well.  That's on me, so allow me to try to flesh out my thought process.

I believe this game falls under the Big 12's TV contract, even though it is a one-off game.  I am making this leap as it is being played in the state of Texas, part of the Big 12 footprint.  During the offseason, I did a little digging on this topic and believe a provision remains in the Big 12 contract regarding neutral site games being played in the Big 12 footprint belong to Big 12 TV rightsholders.  In this case, ESPN organized the game to air it on their networks.

My line of thinking revolved around how Longhorn Network seems to be airing three Texas games per year.  If you assume they will air the North Texas game on 8/30 plus one conference game, that would leave LHN to take either the UCLA game or a 2nd Big 12 game.  At that moment, my thinking was that if they wanted to air three games, they might not take a 2nd Big 12 game.  And with Dish Network picking up Longhorn Network, the game could have become a bargaining chip for the network as they have their upcoming negotiations with DirecTV.

After some discussion with those following my feed and additional research, if Longhorn Network is to air three games, it probably wouldn't be the UCLA game.  As it was a one-off game, compared to the Ole Miss series, the guaranteed money around the game and the stature of both teams coming into 2014 (both could be inside the top 25) seems to make it worth more than just showing on a secondary network.


Morgan Wick said...

Fox is losing SEC content too, keep in mind. I think the Saints are the only team in the country whose preseason games aren't on an over-the-air station. You'd think the station owned by the same people who run the team would pick up preseason games. Do you know how long the CST deal lasts for?

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I don't know how long the CST deal lasts for but the games are simulcast on a few local TV stations and inside NOLA on one too.

FOX is losing SEC content, but not until 2015. They will still have a batch of football and basketball games for the '14-'15 athletic year because the sublicense deal with ESPN ran one year longer than the one with Comcast. There were some stories that ESPN originally wanted to wait to start the SEC Network once they had all of the sublicensed content under their possession again, but the decision was made to go without the FOX content and not buy it back, but let the agreement expire.

FOX is still in good shape, regionally, for the moment because of the length of sublicense agreements the ACC had with Raycom and, by extension, FOX. They are also in it for the next decade with the Big 12 for content that FSN can carry.

bigddan11 said...

FOX can also pick up additional Conference USA content anytime they wish to. They'd just need to move the Fox College Sports exclusives to FSN. Heck, they could even pick up more C-USA games by renegotiating, and since FOX owns BTN, they could probably get away with moving some of the BTN games to a Fox Network.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

FOX can't move the BTN content to another network at this time. ABC is their exclusive over-the-air rightsholder for regular season games & ESPN's nets for primary national cable. Maybe once this rights deal is completed, if they get rights to content outside of what they have for BTN.

FOX can take more C-USA content if they want at any time without moving any games. It is for a minimum of 20 football games on FOX national networks (FOX College Sports is not one of them I'm told, just FSN, FS1 and FOX) and 10 men's basketball games. So they can take more at any time for those networks without renegotiating. At this time they've chosen not to.

bigddan11 said...

Fox College Sports had CUSA football exclusives this past year, and that was after the link you provided. I was merely saying they could move CUSA games from FCS to FSN in place of the SEC games. What is more likely though is that the ACC RSN games get picked up by FSN affiliates that had the SEC FSN games instead.