Thursday, February 19, 2015

A few CFB scheduling notes (American, BYU, Pac-12) for 2015

The American Athletic Conference's 2015 football schedule came out Thursday.  Here's a few notes regarding the TV side.

* The release notes that 80% of the football games will air on a national television platform, such as ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS or CBS Sports Network..  That number is 68 games.  That number does not include the six Navy home games that CBS Sports Network will carry that are part of separate television deal between Navy & CBS signed before Navy's entrance to the conference as a football only member.  It also does not include the conference championship game nor the Army-Navy football game.

Based on 68 games, the approximate number of televised football games should be 54 games.  Assuming the number of games required to air on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU remains 28 games, ESPNEWS and CBS Sports Network should be splitting the remaining 26 games, which CBSSN has chosen two games from already.  ESPN3 and/or regional networks would then carry about 14 games.

Here are the games currently scheduled for television covered by the American's TV deal.

* The choice of network, or network flex options, of some of the weeknight games that ESPN has chosen are interesting and could potentially point to other games being aired on ESPN's platforms
  • Friday 9/4 - Baylor at SMU will air on ESPN or ESPNU.  ESPN2 should be carrying the US Open tennis tournament in the evening, provided they do not sell off some of the coverage to another network.  Another game currently scheduled for that evening is Michigan St. at Western Michigan.  That MAC game could become the other game flexed between those two networks.
  • Friday 10/2 - Memphis at USF will air on ESPN or ESPN2 while Connecticut at BYU has the option to air on those two networks plus ESPNU.  BYU has been scheduled for a Friday night ESPNU game before and other programming possibilities could dictate where each game airs.  A doubleheader on a single network is possible as well instead of staggered starts on two separate channels.
  • Thursday 10/10 - SMU at Houston airing on ESPN2 could point to Washington at USC airing on ESPN.  FOX Sports 1 could be airing MLB playoff coverage at this time, so they might not be an option for Washington at USC.
  • Thursday 10/24 - Temple at East Carolina airing on either ESPN or ESPN2.  Similar to 10/10 where FOX Sports 1 could have MLB playoff coverage and ESPN potentially picking up California at UCLA for ESPN.
  • Friday 11/7 - The potential for Temple at SMU to air on ESPNU.  It appears the college basketball season could be starting the following week.  The 2015 Champions Classic is scheduled for 11/17 and that is typically when ESPN's 24 hour basketball marathon starts and that is usually the first full week of hoops.  ESPNU might be airing hoops if the season starts on 11/13 or earlier that week.  ESPN2 is the other option for Temple at SMU and that makes sense as ESPN should have their typical Friday NBA coverage during that time.
* Several of the network flex options for ESPN could also involve the forthcoming schedule releases for the MAC, Mountain West, BYU and Sun Belt.  For example, Boise St. may have let it slip that the road game at BYU would remain on a Saturday during a release touting their home game vs. Idaho St. moving to a Friday night.

Besides the Connecticut game scheduled for the Friday before the LDS General Conference, BYU may be looking for another home game to be played on a weeknight.  Probably not the Wagner nor the previously mentioned Boise St. game.  There are two possibilities I believe:
  • I could see the Fresno St. game up for consideration as its date is currently empty.  In 2014, Utah St. played a home game on the same Friday as the championship round of the 2K Sports Classic was played prior to the game.  That might be something ESPN works out with the Mountain West as they continue to formulate their schedule.  BYU's final regular season game is on 11/28 at Utah St., so there could be a hook into that conference's schedule.
  • The other possibility is the game vs. Cincinnati on 10/17 moving up one day to 10/16.  The Houston at Tulane game is conveniently scheduled for that Friday with the flexibility of ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.  That also happens to be the time of year where ESPN might schedule a NBA preseason game to occupy one of those three networks too.

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