* BTN took six Saturday games for their primetime package. Of note is that one of the games is in mid-November, which indicates a softening of the stance on November night games. But I don't think its a coincidence either that incoming member Maryland is the one hosting the game.
An ESPN release also had the weeknight games on 8/28 (Eastern Illinois-Minnesota) and 8/29 (Jacksonville St.-Michigan St.). Those games have since been pulled from the ESPN post from their Big Ten blogger, however a tweet from Michigan St. is still out there.
Michigan State’s Aug. 29 season and home opener against Jacksonville State will be televised by BTN, with night kickoff TBD. #SpartansThey will probably be part of the release of game times for the first three weeks of the season, likely arriving sometime in the next eight weeks.
— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) April 22, 2014
One item the ESPN release noted is that it is possible that we will see other Big Ten night games come out. I don't know if that means that more will be announced as part of the first three weeks' set of kickoff times or if the two TV entities are working to get other night games set in November, such as Ohio St.-Michigan St. on 11/8. As a few other articles have mentioned, decisions might be on hold while other conferences and their TV partners make decisions on their games, such as when CBS might have their SEC doubleheader with a primetime game.
* Homecoming kickoff times in the Big Ten are usually set aside before the season as well. Two homecoming games (Illinois at Nebraska on 9/27, Nebraska at Northwestern on 10/18) were selected by BTN. That leaves twelve other homecoming games to be set in advance. In many cases, the games are set with a kickoff time with a TV network to be determined as part of the 12 day TV selection process. In some cases, ESPN may end up selecting a homecoming game their ABC 3:30 pm game.
* Educational & informative programming (E/i) is required of the over-the-air broadcast networks every week for at least three hours. I will be curious to see how often ABC uses 12pm ET windows for college football. 2014 is a World Cup year and ABC will be carrying five matches that will air at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT, four at 2:30pm ET / 11:30am ET and one at 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT. Many national broadcasters fulfill their E/I requirements on Saturday mornings (three hours of programming per week). NBC has split their programming over Saturday & Sunday to account for English Premier League games starting regularly at 12:30pm ET. But if ABC does get any exemptions, I do wonder if that lessens the possibility of more than 2-3 12pm windows.
In 2010, ABC had only two Saturday 12pm ET windows and both were very late in the season: 11/27/10 (Michigan at Ohio St.) and 12/4/10 (Rutgers at West Virginia), even though ABC themselves only aired two WC games that year that would have aired mostly before 12pm PT. ABC did carry the Breeders Cup in the morning on the west coast (1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT), but this was the first year the The Open Championship aired exclusively on ESPN, so it did not add to the issues.
Maybe that makes no sense and does not matter, but it could be a consideration.
* Northern Illinois issued a release yesterday that their game at UNLV, moved from 9/13/14 to Friday 9/12/14 for a telecast on CBS Sports Network, was not set in stone. Outside of the NIU release, which does not that UNLV did not acknowledge the date change either (there is no mention of the date change on their site), there isn't much information out there about what the issues could be with the date change, whether it is travel/lodging issues for the team or something else.
The conference is the one who issued the release with the date change and telecast. If I were to hazard a guess, I suspect that there was a missed communication between UNLV, the Mountain West and CBS Sports Network about NIU's ability to play on 9/12. Based on UNLV not promoting the date change, they may have been out of the loop as well.
If the game were to move back to Saturday 9/13, there is an opening right now on CBS Sports Network at 3:30pm ET / 12:30 pm PT. It is certainly possible that CBS Sports Network could move around two Mountain West games already scheduled for 9/13 to air the UNLV game at night too. A third option could to play the game on 9/13 and "trade" the game to ESPN for something else, maybe another American conference game. The risk of trading the game could be that it airs on ESPN3 instead of a traditional television outlet, though the point could be made that more homes have access to ESPN3 than those who subscribe to CBS Sports Network.
* CBS Sports Network has roughly the following number of Saturday slots open for American & C-USA plus a Patriot League game or two:
- Early afternoon, around 12pm ET: 8-9 openings
- C-USA wouldn't use one on 12/6 because that is their championship game date. Air Force at Army could end up filling a portion of the telecast window
- Mid-afternoon, around 3:30pm ET: 7-8 openings
- Same as above. Any opening on 12/6 is for the American. Air Force at Army could fill a portion of a TV window
- Evening, around 7pm ET:
- One late evening window could be filled by C-USA, specifically UTEP as they work on Mountain Time. The open window on 11/15 could be filled by North Texas at UTEP, but UTEP often goes for earlier kickoff times once the calendar turns to November.
So that is around
24 23 Saturday openings and that does not account for the possibility of a early season men's basketball event like the Corpus Christi Challenge, which aired in the evening on Saturday 11/30/13 taking up a spot where a football game could air. CBSSN is to air around 13-15 American games and an undetermined number of C-USA games.
* A couple Friday night football related notes:
- With CBS Sports Network airing Air Force at San Diego St. on 11/21, that would seem to indicate that the UTEP at Rice game currently set for that date as being aired on one of the FOX Sports entities if it is a national game. The game was set for a Friday when the C-USA schedule was originally release. It was not moved a few weeks ago along with other C-USA games for national telecasts. It is always possible that CBS Sports Network could double up, but that would mean that the Rice game would kickoff at 5pm local time.
- CBS Sports Network is scheduled to air a Professional Bull Riders event on Friday 8/29 from Oklahoma. The event starts at 9pm ET. Per the PBR website, the televised portion of the event is scheduled as TBA. It does not say whether the event is a live airing or not. It is certainly possible that CBSSN is planning to carry the Bowling Green at Western Kentucky football game and either join the PBR event in progress or show it on a delay.