Saturday, June 7, 2014

News & notes from the past week (5/31/14 - 6/7/14)

* If you have been following anything with the O'Bannon vs. NCAA court case, you may have seen tweets from Steve Berkowitz of USA Today & Jon Solomon of CBS Sports reporting that the Big 12 & C-USA asking for details of their TV deals to remain private if discussed during the court case, possibly through closed courtroom proceedings.
I don't know what harm C-USA feels they would incur.  Initially I thought there might be details related to their settlement with ESPN over the lawsuit the network filed a few years back that were not made public that would come out, but that doesn't seem to be the case if the Big 12 is also requesting rights agreement info to remain private.

FOX is a common rightsholder between the two conferences.  The Pac-12 had their term sheet with ESPN and FOX released last summer.  Maybe a connection can be drawn there as it would open up all of FOX's college football rights agreements to public scrutiny.  C-USA will start the fourth year of their five year rights agreements with CBS Sports Network and FOX Sports on July 1st.  Maybe they have concerns about their deals being made public as they could be negotiating their next set of TV deals in a year.

* BYU has a pair of home games set for ESPN, vs. Houston on September 11th and the Utah St. game on October 3rd.  The remaining three home games vs. Virginia, Nevada and UNLV should be set around twelve days in advance of the game date.  The school's contract with ESPN requires at least three games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 and at least one game on ESPNU, so at least one of those three games will end up on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 and at least one on ESPNU.

BYU's home game vs. Savannah St. has been set aside for a telecast by BYUtv.

* With the Air Force-Wyoming game set for ESPNU at 10:15pm on September 6th, the Mountain West's early season is set for national TV.  The ROOT Sports regional TV package is likely being finalized along with the games that will be available through the conference's Campus Insiders portal, some of which are exclusively produced by CI.

Speaking of ROOT, a few of their Big Sky telecasts have had their kickoff times set.  The others may be waiting for the Mountain West package to be set as they could be scheduled around those games.

* The MAC and ESPN set many of the early season games under MAC control for ESPN3 with a few exceptions, including the notable one of Missouri at Toledo possibly airing on ABC at 12pm.  I wonder if that means the Oklahoma-Tulsa game will be earmarked for noon ET once it is set, hopefully next week.  June 15th is a deadline date for a lot of conferences when setting their kickoff times & telecast options.

 For the games that were listed as TBA in the MAC release (there were ten MAC controlled games listed that way), nine of those games are homecoming games.  I don't think that affects whether the game would be on ESPN3 or a regional sports network.  This may have been a request of many of the schools to be allowed to set those kickoff times far in advance, similar to what the Big Ten does.

I noticed that there were no games set aside for ESPN Regional Television and those could be on the way, but I am unsure if this package still exists and reached out to the MAC for clarification (not sure I'll get an answer).  Think about this for a minute.  The SEC's package ends as games will be folded into the SEC Network.  The Big 12 Network has ended with its basketball games moving to ESPN national cable networks, including ESPNEWS.  The American Athletic Conference will no longer have a syndication package in football, choosing to allow for games on ESPNEWS and sublicensing of content to CBS Sports Network.  The branding of ESPN Plus has disappeared in favor of ESPN Events, managing standalone events like bowl games, neutral site basketball tournaments and a couple other items.

So would they keep it around for MAC syndication?  I'm not sure I would.  If ESPNEWS is going to air more live events, fold the six MAC games into ESPNEWS and call it a day.  I don't think they have to renegotiate a TV deal to do this.  The Big 12 finished up the second year of a 12 year deal with ESPN and the Big 12 Network is gone.  If you wanted to point out that the games are in less homes with over-the-air coverage in some markets plus ESPN3 in outer markets, its a fair statement.  It could be argued that the games have greater visibility for folks nationally who are channel flipping on a Saturday & don't have a laptop, tablet, cell phone in front of them.

ESPNEWS & ESPNU have a similar number of subscribing homes.  Through most of 2013, ESPNEWS was slightly ahead of ESPNU.

* Available Black Friday slots on ESPN's networks should be more noticeable once the network announces the schedule for several early season basketball tournaments they show.  Normally this schedule comes out in late July or early August.

* Several bowl games have not publicly announced their game dates and kickoff times.  Here's a guess at the ones not yet set
  • Miami Beach - Expected to air on ESPN.  12/23/14 is the rumored date per FBSchedules and it is also my understanding that this is a pre-Christmas bowl.  Let's go with a 2:30pm ET kickoff
  • Military - 12/26/14 at 4:30pm
  • Independence 12/27/14 at 2pm
  • Russell Athletic - 12/27/14 at 5:30pm
  • Liberty - 12/30/14 at 12pm
  • Music City -  12/30/14 at 3:15pm
  • Outback - 1/1/15 at 1pm on ESPN2
  • Buffalo Wild Wings - 1/2/15 at 10:15pm.  Should put the Gator at 3:15pm.
  • Birmingham - 1/3/15 at 1pm
  • GoDaddy - 1/4/15 at 9pm
The Detroit bowl game, which is supposed to pit the ACC and the Big Ten and is backed by the Detroit Lions, is a ghost to me at the moment.  Both myself and the guy who runs have been unable to find an online presence for the game, either through social media or the Lions themselves.  I found registered by someone in Michigan, but it doesn't appear to be someone connected to the game.  Maybe the game has a sponsor and it will be part of the URL.  FBSchedules has a tentative date for the game of 12/30, but I don't know anything else about the game.

* I'll go out on a small limb with the remaining early season kickoff times since the American, Big Ten and Sun Belt remain

Week 1
Thursday - 8pm CBSSN - Tulane at Tulsa
Saturday - 12pm ESPN2 - Appalachian St. at Michigan
Saturday - 12pm ESPNU - Western Michigan at Purdue
Saturday - 3:30pm ABC/ESPN2 Reverse Mirror - California at Northwestern

Rest of the Big Ten games on BTN & the American and Sun Belt games on ESPN3.

Week 2 (all on Saturday)
12pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 - Oklahoma at Tulsa
12pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 - Akron at Penn St.
12pm ESPNU - Ball St. at Iowa
12pm ESPNEWS - Maryland at USF
3:30pm ESPN2 - Georgia Tech at Tulane
3:30pm CBS Sports Network - Navy at Temple

Rest of the Big Ten games on BTN & the American and Sun Belt games on ESPN3.  Maybe Duke at Troy becomes a mid-afternoon ESPNEWS game.  I don't think there will be a reverse mirror at 12pm between the two games above plus Missouri at Toledo.

Week 3 (all on Saturday)
12pm ABC/ESPN2 Reverse Mirror - East Carolina at Virginia Tech
12pm ABC/ESPN2 Reverse Mirror - Iowa St. at Iowa
12pm ESPN - Kent St. at Ohio St.
3:30pm ABC/ESPN Reverse Mirror - West Virginia at Maryland (w/Arkansas at Texas Tech)
3:30pm ESPNEWS - Boise St. at Connecticut
3:30pm CBS Sports Network - NC State at USF
7pm ESPNEWS - Mississippi St. at South Alabama

Rest of the Big Ten games on BTN & the American and Sun Belt games on ESPN3.

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