Monday, December 22, 2014

Pre-Holiday Rumblings

* Asked this over two tweets on my timeline:

As you probably know, Pac-12 Networks are not carried by DirecTV.  You also probably know that AT&T is in process of acquiring DirecTV.  The leap is being made that the Pac-12 Networks would appear on DirecTV at some point shortly after AT&T acquires the provider as the U-Verse service carries three of the Pac-12 Networks, plus the rest of the networks via authenticated provider access at the Pac-12 website.

I'm not of the opinion that these contracts will be 100% transferable and that AT&T's carriage contracts, or lack of contracts, would transfer over.  If they did, would channels like NHL Network be dropped because AT&T doesn't have a deal for it?  In a somewhat similar scenario, when Adelphia was carved up by Time Warner, Comcast and others, Adelphia systems that carried NFL Network lost access to the channel.  Conversely, I don't see Pac-12 Networks or Epix showing up right away, not to mention some authenticated services like WatchESPN or FOX Sports Go.

DirecTV and AT&T talked about the possibility of operating the satellite service and U-Verse as separate business units and if they were to ever merge some of their carriage contracts, it might be phased in over a period of time.  For example, they might consider syncing up their programming contracts so that they expire at the same time, they negotiate across both business at a later date.

* Each of the last two seasons FOX Sports 1 has placed a C-USA game on the Thursday night that the NFL opens its season.  Provided that it isn't a conference game involving FAU, Western Kentucky or Louisiana Tech, FOX may look to move the Kansas St. at UTSA game to a Thursday night.

FOX Sports 1, in general, may look to place more games on Thursday & Friday nights with the season being shorter by one week compared to 2013 & 2014, in addition to using FSN for a few more C-USA & Big 12 games.  At least when its feasible since they'll have postseason baseball on the channel occupying a 2-3 week stretch, plus NASCAR truck commitments.  Whether they'll have to use FOX Sports 2 for other games, or place a few more games on FOX College Sports, I'm not sure.  I don't think the FCS channels have a dedicated HD feed available, but I believe they produce the games using equipment for a widescreen production.  At least I think they do based on what gets fed to the FOX Sports GO application.

* In addition to the Big Ten men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in 2018, the conference will have two men's basketball-men's hockey doubleheaders at the arena, one each in 2016 and 2017.

Penn St. & Michigan will be the featured schools on 1/30/16, which if I counted right is would be the weekend of the Pro Bowl.  From the press releases, I'm unable to tell who would be losing a home game in both sports.

* Forgot about this, but the Mountain West title game contract will enter its option year with CBS.  It appears that CBS has the option to pick up the game or not.  Ratings for the game were down slightly and the game itself doesn't get cleared by some affiliates, who instead shuffle it to a digital subchannel, or will join in late after local newscasts.

I'm unsure if CBS has the ability to place the game on CBS Sports Network, which isn't Nielsen rated but touts a subscriber number of 56 million.  The evening start may be desired by the conference to stay away from the other conference championships throughout the day, plus the possibility of a Hawai'i hosted game.

I do not know if ESPN, as the conference's other rightsholder, would be the next party to negotiate with the conference if CBS elects not to pick up the option or if the conference could take the rights to the game to the open market where FOX, NBC or another party could submit a bid.  The American Athletic Conference will hold their inaugural football championship game next year over the same weekend with ESPN holding the rights to the game, so that would fill up one of the openings.

* Have seen a pair of non-conference Big East games were pulled from FOX Sports 2 in favor or FSN regional distribution recently, specifically Rhode Island-Providence on 12/10 and North Dakota-Marquette on 12/22.  I don't know if these were changes were made in addition to those as part of conference play.  The conference website did not have the changes to FSN, but changes look like they were made in mid-to-late November based on the game notes of both Providence & Marquette.

One item could be that FOX promised their regional affiliates a set number of Big East games and by shifting two conference games from FSN to FOX Sports 1, they needed to make good with the number games being provided to those affiliates.  That's the only thing I can think of, especially since the games are not being replaced with live sports content on FS2.

* Enjoy the holiday break, no matter what you are or are not celebrating.


Morgan Wick said...

The last two years there were only two games on in the late afternoon, one of them being the SEC title game. I was surprised that the MWC title game stayed in its unusual-for-broadcast time slot rather than moving to the late afternoon and the SEC title game moving to primetime.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I don't know if CBS wants the SEC in the early afternoon to avoid a clash with the ACC or Pac-12, if the SEC wants the afternoon kickoff, or if there is another motive. The theory that primetime MUST have the top game doesn't always hold up. That game provides them a good rating regardless of when it airs, but since it gets virtually an unopposed slot, why not milk it for all its worth?

As for the Mountain West, I suppose the plan is that they want it to be a night game at the site of the game or at least in Hawai'i its a late afternoon (5pm HT) start.

Unknown said...

i am always shocked that CBS doesn't insist that the SEC Championship game be played later....say 6pm instead of 4pm

Matt Sarzyniak said...

It was a 6pm for a while with Army-Navy preceding it at 2pm or 2:30pm. Then Army-Navy switched to 12pm and the SEC game to 4pm. It stayed at 4pm when Army-Navy moved back a week.

If it airs at 6pm ET, CBS still has to figure out programming for affiliates on the west coast or give the time back.

Unknown said...


Slight correction in that the B1G Hockey/Basketball doubleheader is for 4 years, not 2,

Hope you enjoyed your holiday break.