Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Notes: Mountain West National TV Schedule, Atlantic 10 on ASN, FS1 doubleheader from Pearl Harbor

* The Mountain West released its primary schedule of Saturday ESPN and CBS Sports Network telecasts on Tuesday.  Here's the link of all the Mountain West controlled games selected by both parties.  Here's a few brief notes on the games selected and other scheduling items surrounding those selections:
  • Fresno St. will have a unique four week stretch of 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm PT Saturday starts on CBSSN between 9/19 and 10/10.  They'll also play a fifth straight late start vs. UNLV the following week, but on a Friday.
  • The trade of Boise St. games between CBS Sports Network and ESPN was ESPN sending the Idaho St. home game to CBSSN in exchange for the road game at UNLV airing on an ESPN platform.
  • Two Army games appear to have been locked into their time slots on CBSSN.  The Wake Forest game on 9/19 is locked into the 12pm ET start due to three other games already scheduled at 3:30pm, 7pm and 10:30pm ET, respectively.  The Bucknell game on 10/17 also appears to be locked into a noon start with the Air Force at Colorado St. game starting at 3:30pm.  Army has requested all of its Saturday games to kickoff at 12pm or 3:30pm with 12pm being preferential.
  • There was a report a few weeks back from the Virginian-Pilot that NC State turned down a request for moving their game at Old Dominion to Friday 9/18 on CBS Sports Network.  Looking back on that and we now see the 9/19 is completely on CBSSN, so it appears that the game could revert to be a FOX selection.
  • The games on 11/28 on CBSSN are somewhat uniquely scheduled.  BYU at Utah St. will start at a fairly normal start time of 3:30pm ET.  Assuming a three and a half hour telecast window, 7pm would start the next event.  What is different is the start time of the Colorado St. at Fresno St., which is 9pm ET, which leaves only two hours between the end of one game & the start of the next. What CBSSN could be trying to fit in is the championship game from a basketball event, such as the Emerald Coast Classic or the Corpus Christi Challenge.  My money would be on the Emerald Coast event, which has three teams from Power 5 conferences (Illinois, Iowa St. and Virginia Tech) and a fourth who won a game in the NCAA Tournament in '15 (UAB).  With the finish of the football game at 12:30am, again using a three and a half hour TV window, they could carry the final of the Great Alaska Shootout, maybe by moving the tip time of that game back an hour.
  • I struggle nearly every year with the rightsholder for the Colorado-Colorado St. game in Denver.  Going back to 2008, the it seemed to air on the Pac-12 or Big 12 TV partner for two straight years, then revert to the Mountain West rights holder.  So I would have thought that 2015's game would have reverted to the Pac-12 and it didn't:
    • 2008: FSN
    • 2009: FSN (game in Boulder)
    • 2010: The mtn.
    • 2011: FSN
    • 2012: F/X
    • 2013: CBSSN
    • 2014: FS1
  • Since I did take a stab at parsing out which games each Mountain West TV partner would pick up, here's how I did with the national packages.  In short, not great and that's with having the ability to place Boise St.'s games with specific rightsholders: 
    • CBSSN: 10 of 22
    • ESPN: 8 of 22
    • Potential Hawai'i PPV: Six matching games, so far.
  • At the risk of sounding repetitive, Army's start times on CBSSN should be available by the end of the week.  Their agreement with CBS requires home start times to be set by May 1st.
* The Atlantic 10 have signed a enhanced agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting's American Sports Network.  Two key items in the deal with respect to men's basketball are that the syndicator will show at least 32 men's basketball games and air the two first round games in the men's basketball tournament involving seeds 11 through 14.

The two tournament games aired on Comcast RSNs in 2015 (noted with the conference logo here).  I am not sure if this package of games is replacing the SNY/Comcast regional package or the Campus Insiders package, or if this is a new package of games that will be selected out of the games that did not air on any of the national TV packages nor the regional & internet exclusive packages.  For example, Richmond has had games on local stations in recent years, Dayton has had games on Time Warner Cable & FOX Sports Ohio, Davidson on local cable, etc. and the 32 games could come from a new source.

* FOX Sports 1 will televise a MBK doubleheader from Pearl Harbor on 12/7/15.  It will include the Villanova-Oklahoma game previously discussed plus a game between Oregon and Navy.  It will be part of a four day stint that FOX will be in Hawai'i with various studio and live programming.  More on FOX's stay in Hawai'i can be found here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Big Ten primetime games on ABC/ESPN, Paradise Jam & CBSSN's unique CFB tripleheader

* First, here's the list of all Big Ten controlled games selected for TV so far.

* 9/12 happens to be the one week that both BTN (FIU at Indiana & South Alabama at Nebraska) and an ABC/ESPN platform (Oregon at Michigan St.) will carry night games.  Looking back at 2013 & 2014, it looks like they can coexist in one primetime window per season.

* TCU at Minnesota being selected by ESPN may be a sign regarding the rest of the plans for the opening Thursday night.  An assumption is being made for ESPN2.
  • ESPN: TCU at Minnesota
  • ESPN2: US Open tennis
  • ESPNU: Oklahoma St. at Central Michigan, maybe UTSA at Arizona too?
  • SEC Network: North Carolina vs. South Carolina.  Maybe a second game?
  • FS1: Michigan at Utah
* The selection of two Big Ten night games on 11/7 might be a sign that CBS and the SEC have made a choice regarding the Saturday where they will show a primetime doubleheader.  By choosing the two games, ESPN can then set aside the noon Eastern time window for at least one SEC game and show the rest of the SEC Network if they want to.

11/7 happens to be the date of LSU at Alabama game, which over the past few years has been part of the afternoon & primetime doubleheader.  There are five other SEC games that day.

* A reminder that the Big Ten primetime games don't necessarily have to be full national.  Just the 3:30pm Eastern time games.  Last year the Illinois at Ohio St. & Oklahoma St. at Kansas St. games were split national on ABC and the only other way to watch the other game was ESPN3, not ESPN or ESPN2.

* CBS Sports Network is going with a unique tripleheader on Thursday 9/3 with a pair of American Athletic Conference games at 6pm and 9:30pm, followed by Colorado at Hawai'i at 1am Eastern time Friday.  No doubt appealing to the football junkies and testing those of us who will stay up until nearly any hour to watch a game.  Then again, the Hawai'i game will be played the Friday before Labor Day weekend, so if you are going with the long weekend, this might be right up your alley.

When the Hawai'i game was set for a overnight Eastern time start, I was a bit curious to see if someone like CBSSN or ESPNU would try a 24 hour marathon of games at some point.  The filler on Friday morning & afternoon could be games from Division II, III and the Football Championship Subdivision.

* The bracket for the Paradise Jam was announced this week and when both the list of teams and the bracket were announced, both releases were missing a TV partner, something that had been announced in previous years whether the partner was CBS Sports Network or FOX College Sports, but they could be working on which games they want to show on TV. 

CBSSN is scheduled to carry the Cincinnati at USF football but has not yet set kickoff times for the game.  Last year CBSSN carried the 4pm & 6:30pm ET games followed by a football game, which could indicate a 8:30pm kickoff for the football game at the earliest.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Update on 2015 Gavitt Tipoff & MW TV rights beyond '15-'16

* The Gavitt Tipoff matchups, not yet officially announced, have been leaked.  The games will be played 11/17/15 - 11/20/15.  Here they are with a few notes:

Penn St. at DePaul
Iowa at Marquette
Rutgers at St. John's
Illinois Providence
Creighton at Indiana
Georgetown at Maryland
Xavier at Michigan
Villanova at Nebraska
  • On the Big East side, Butler & Seton Hall are out.  Not a big surprise when you consider that they both will play in ESPN owned events in Puerto Rico & Charleston, SC, respectively, starting on 11/19.  I assume both would be travelling on 11/17 to their tournaments with a practice on 11/18.
  • I would expect Penn St. at DePaul & Georgetown at Maryland to be played early in the week.  Georgetown plays in the 2KSports Classic on 11/20 & 11/22 in New York City and DePaul will play in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands starting on 11/20.
  • I don't believe it is set in stone that there will be one Big East & one Big Ten hosted game every night.  Two Big Ten or Big East schools could host on a particular evening.  Each of the Big East schools hosting play in arenas that also have pro sports tenants.  Of those schools, St. John's regularly plays at Carnesecca Arena and could conceivably host Rutgers there.  Rutgers played at the on campus arena in Queens last in 2011.
  • Georgtown-Maryland will be a repeat matchup in 2016 with Georgetown hosting.
  • The Big East hosted games are expected to air on FOX Sports 1.  The Big Ten hosted games could either appear on an ESPN platform or BTN.  Georgetown at Maryland seems like it would be worthwhile to air on ESPN.
* Until reading a few articles from when CBS and the Mountain West restructured their rights agreement, it had slipped my mind that the agreement had not been extended in terms of the length of it and would expire after the 2015-16 athletic year, which would normally mean that it is in process of being renegotiated or potentially hitting the open market.  But I had forgotten that CBS also holds a option to tack four more years onto the deal and that would keep it in line with the length of the Mountain West's rights agreement with ESPN.  CBS, to my knowledge, retains an option for the 2015 football championship game that has not yet been officially exercised as well.

In my opinion, it would be foolish for CBS to decline the regular season option unless they had something bigger already in hand, like Big Ten rights for football, and I don't think they will be a player for those rights with respect to CBS Sports Network.  CBSSN provides the Mountain W est with a lot of air time for games and the Mountain West provides the channel with relatively cheaply priced content, especially for a network that has chosen to not be rated by Nielsen, so we're not measuring how many people are watching the games.  CBSSN also gets priority selections with respect to MW football games (they might in basketball too).

Could the Mountain West get more money from someone like FOX or NBC if CBS did decline the option and let the conference walk?  Probably a little bit more.  Neither FS1 or NBCSN is subscribed to by 90 million homes at this point, so they wouldn't qualify as major national networks for the monetary bonuses provided to MW schools for national football appearances, so at the moment it would only enhance the exposure of those games without changing the balance of revenue sharing.  FOX might ask that more football games air on FS2 with FS1 carrying a decent number of Pac-12 games, which might be less desirable than staying with CBSSN.  I think FSN would be a non-starter because while ROOT Sports is affiliated with FSN, they regularly substitute in their own programming.  NBCSN had Mountain West content through Comcast's partnership in the mtn. RSN, so they might be an option.

Also, per the term sheet linked above, I don't think it would change how Boise St. home games are distributed.  The package that CBS currently has would only contain the four road games they play against Mountain West opponents.  ESPN retains the rights to home games with the two rightsholders allowed to swap one game each between packages.

But like I mentioned, it is in CBS's best interest, in my opinion, to exercise the option to extend the current TV deal.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

When Are Game Times Going To Be Set?

The title question is a question, now that a few more kickoff times were announced this week, that I'll start receiving more and more.  And I can't give you a specific answer.  I don't work for a TV network and when I ask a conference or network about that information, I either don't get a response or the response is vague and I respect their wishes to keep that close to the vest.

But the next six to eight weeks should have what you are looking for with respect to early season kickoff times and weeknight games.  So with that in mind, here's the dates they came out last year for each conference and some notes:

Early season neutral site games - 5/21/15 for Wisconsin-Alabama, 5/28/15 for Louisville-Auburn.  Waiting on Arizona St. vs. Texas A&M, which ASU indicates will be released with other SEC games.

ACC - They are out, including nearly all weeknight games.

American - Most, but not all, early season & weeknight games have been set for TV or webcasts as of 5/27.  Penn St. at Temple on 9/5 and three games on 9/12 are awaiting placement.  I assume these games will air on traditional TV outlets.

Army - Released on 5/5/15.

Big 12 - Most announced on 6/1 as part of a FOX release.

Big Ten - Night games are out for both ABC/ESPN and BTN. Homecoming game times are out too (games listed as ESPN Networks & BTN).  7/16/14 (early season) - The reason for the early announcement of primetime games is so any stadium that needs temporary lights can make arrangements.  The date of the early season games was a bit later than usual as arrangements were being made to place games on ESPNEWS.  I would think that this would move back to a late May - early June date.

Now why did the BTN weeknight games come out before the ABC/ESPN ones?  That I'm not sure.

BYU - Weeknight & BYUtv game times have been set.  Boise St. game time will be set, probably, in late May or early June.  Others will be set around twelve days in advance.

C-USA - 6/1/15 (CBSSN & FOX Sports), 7/17/14 (American Sports Network) - The selections for CBSSN and FOX were timed to coincide with a release by FOX for their entire season's schedule of telecast windows.  Not all start times were set by FOX as some were set during the season.  The ASN games were announced right before the conference's media days but could appear earlier this year with an agreement in hand.

MAC - Times are set for early season and mid season weeknight games (ie. not Black Friday) as of 6/10.

Notre Dame - They are out as of 4/18/15.  Every game will air on NBC.

Navy - Already set.

Mountain West - Weeknight and CBSSN & ESPN Saturday selections have been made, 6/5/14 (early season ESPN start times), 6/26/14 (late ESPN & CBSSN additions), 7/1/14 (Campus Insiders MW Network & ROOT Sports) - I believe the only game ESPN could make an announcement on in early June is the San Jose St. at Air Force game for its start time and network.

Pac-12 - Released on 6/1/15 along with other conferences associated with FOX Sports.

SEC - 5/1/14 (early season SEC Network), 5/30/14 (rest of early season & special dates) - Note that the SEC Network games were released early last year as ESPN was negotiating for carriage of the network.  Now that nearly every major carrier is on board, those games could be held back.  For your sanity and mind, lets hope they don't wait until the conference's media days like they used to for several years.

Sun Belt - Set on 6/8/15.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Notes on 2015 Mountain West Weeknight CFB Schedule & Other Weeknight Games

Mountain West TV schedule so far

* Two things that stuck out to me:
  • CBS Sports Network, as part of their trade with ESPN for a Boise St. home game, was "stuck" with the game vs. Idaho St.  Based on today's announcement, it isn't clear which Boise St. MW road game CBSSN gave up for this honor.  It would either be the Colorado St. game on 10/10 or the UNLV game on 10/31.

    A report came out this week that NC State denied a request from CBSSN and Old Dominion to move their game to Friday 9/18, so I'm not sure if the ISU at BSU would have been part of a doubleheader or not.
  • Colorado at Hawai'i stayed with the start time of 7pm local Thursday / 1am Friday.  Thought that it would be moved up one hour or 90 minutes, but maybe UH did not want a start time of 5:30pm or 6pm on a weeknight.  I really don't know.  I will be curious to see how this game will be paired with Duke at Tulane and if CBSSN three games into the evening.  Maybe it would something like this:
    • 6pm ET: A east coast DII game
    • 9pm ET: Duke at Tulane
    • 1am ET: Hawai'i at Colorado
* Boise St. has apparently agreed to play four five Friday night and one Friday afternoon game.  Two on ESPN through their MW television contract, one on ESPN through the ACC's TV deal and two three more on CBSSN through their MW rights agreement. (Edited to correct CBSSN count)

* Here's a look at how some other previously scheduled weeknight games could be affected:
  • On 9/4, either Baylor at SMU or, potentially, Michigan St. at Western Michigan will start at 7pm on ESPN leading into Washington at Boise St.
  • Assuming this BYU poster schedule is accurate, and it is with respect to the date change for the San Jose St. game, the Cougars home game vs. Cincinnati on is now on 10/16 alongside Houston at Tulane and UNLV at Fresno St., the latter being announced as starting at 10:30pm ET.  Potential options for Houston at Tulane were ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.  Note that 10/16 could potentially be "Midnight Madness" practice night for the 2015-16 MBK season using the 2014 date, so here's a few ways to schedule that assuming it is indeed Midnight Madness night (in my opinion, option #2 is likely):
    • One game each on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.  With UNLV at Fresno St. on ESPN2, Houston at Tulane & Cincinnati at BYU would be looking at options on ESPN and ESPNU.
    • A doubleheader on ESPN2 of Houston at Tulane at 7pm ET and UNLV at Fresno St. following it with Cincinnati at BYU on ESPN 
    • A doubleheader on ESPN of Houston at Tulane at 7pm ET with Cincinnati at BYU following it.
  • 10/31 has Louisville at Wake Forest on ESPN or ESPN2 and Wyoming at Utah St. on ESPN2 at 10:15pm.  Seems convenient to have a game at 10:15pm paired with a 7pm ET start.  ESPN could end up televising a NBA preseason game by this time.
  • Air Force at Boise St. on 11/20 was scheduled at 9:30pm with several MBK events in mind as ESPN owned events from Puerto Rico & Charleston, SC, plus the 2K Sports Classic, are scheduled to be played on this date.
  • On 11/5 ESPN potentially has five games to offer on this Thursday night:  A couple different ways to schedule them.  I tend to favor option #1.
    • ESPN: Mississippi St. at Missouri; ESPN2: Ball St. at Western Michigan or Buffalo at Kent St. followed by Nevada at Fresno St.; ESPNU: Arkansas St. at Appalachian St.; either ESPN3, ESPNEWS or a sublicense for whichever MAC game doesn't air on ESPN2.  
    • Same as above, except move Mississippi St. at Missouri over to SEC Network and show Baylor at Kansas St. on ESPN.
  • Rice at UTEP was scheduled for a national television outlet on 11/6, which I thought was a shoe-in for CBSSN because FS1 has a NASCAR truck series race at 8:30pm ET.  BYU at San Jose St. was scheduled for CBSSN at 10:30pm 11:30pm ET.  After talking it over with the Twitter account for, wanted to provide our exchange because the person running their account made some decent points:

 Your thoughts? 

Quick MBK notes on Villanova-Oklahoma & Gavitt Tipoff

* CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein reports that Villanova & Oklahoma will face each other in Hawai'i on Monday 12/7/14.  I understand the significance of the day (Pearl Harbor Day), though I'm curious on the logistics and potential television outlets for the game.  Rothstein's report did not mention who was organizing the game and with it being on a Monday, it is likely going to be an afternoon game in Hawai'i to be a nighttime game on the east coast.

With Rothstein being the first to report, that might be a clue that CBS is organizing the game to air on CBS Sports Network.  As far as I can tell, he was the first to report that Iowa St. and South Carolina would be facing off at Barclays Center last year and that game ended up on CBSSN.

* In late February, I went through some scheduling items with respect to the Gavitt Tipoff games between the Big East and Big Ten.  After going the press releases a few times, plus asking around, there are a couple other items to note:
  • Nothing is spelled out saying that the Big East & Big Ten would host one game each per night.
  • It is possible, due to facility related issues, that the confines of a single week could be relaxed
I had to re-read the press releases a few times and nowhere did it state that a school from each conference would host one game per night.  So it is possible that an evening could be a doubleheader on ESPN, BTN, ESPN/BTN (splitting two Big Ten games) or FS1.  I'm assuming CBSSN is not going to get access to any of the Big East games.

One matchup has apparently been leaked, again by Rothstein: Nebraska at Villanova

Some of the Big East schools play in arenas with at least one professional team as a tenant.  While schools like St. John's and Villanova could conceivably host a game in their smaller on-campus arena, there could be a situation where a game has to move to the following week, or maybe stretch the event into a full week long event to get every game in based on the hosts.

The plan was to release the pairings in the spring and with the leaked matchup, we could see the pairings & dates very soon..

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quick Notes on 2015 BTN Night Game Schedule

Big Ten schedule

* Compared to previous years, no game times were set with today's schedule release.  My assumption is that these will be coming later in the spring, possibly at the time when the conference's early season television schedule is set.

* Two schools were not part of this schedule: Ohio St. and Purdue.  Purdue, a school without permanent lights, has maintained that they would prefer not to play any night games on BTN at this time as the schools are on the hook for the bill for temporary lights, where Ohio St. now has permanent lights and should be a top five team entering the year.  I would expect the Buckeyes to have at least one home night game on ABC or ESPN.

* A notable game that was not part of this release, but one that will be a night game: TCU at Minnesota on Thursday 9/3.  There are two reasons the game may not be part of this release:
  • BTN was trying to differentiate between non-Saturday and Saturday night games
  • The game is going to air on ESPN
In my opinion, I believe the game is going to be on ESPN with TCU potentially a top five team coming into the season.

* Usually BTN and ABC/ESPN try, when possible, to not have night games on the same date.  Last year there was one date where both sides had a night game (10/4/14).  There are currently seven Saturdays that do not have night games on BTN (9/5, 10/17 - 11/7, 11/21 & 11/28).

I would not expect a Big Ten night game on 9/5 nor on 11/28 on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.  If I were to guess six night games that they would select and not conflict with an existing BTN night game, here's what I think they'll pick up:

10/17: Penn St. at Ohio St.
10/24: Penn St. vs. Maryland (at M&T Bank Stadium)
10/31: Rutgers at Wisconsin
11/7: Rutgers at Michigan & Michigan St. at Nebraska
11/21: Michigan St. at Ohio St.

* Besides ABC/ESPN's night game schedule and the early season schedule, the Big Ten is unique that they also set their game times for homecoming games.  TV networks aren't necessarily set for the games, just the time.  Here are twelve of the fourteen homecoming games as I wasn't able to find homecoming dates for Maryland and Rutgers.

Ohio at Minnesota
Southern Miss at Nebraska
Kansas at Rutgers

Purdue at Michigan St.

Illinois at Iowa
Northwestern at Michigan
Maryland at Ohio St.
Indiana at Penn St.

Rutgers at Indiana
Iowa at Northwestern
Purdue at Wisconsin

Wisconsin at Illinois

Illinois at Purdue

Parsing Out Games for the Mountain West TV Deals in 2015

The Mountain West has a unique set of provisions when it comes to its television contracts.   Some are school related, for example with both Boise St. and Hawai'i.  Other provisions involve the process of the two national rightsholders and their game selections, where CBS can select and handful of games for CBS Sports Network ahead of ESPN.  And there is ROOT Sports, who is more likely to televise games involving schools in their regional television footprint.

So I figured I would try my hand at mapping out the Mountain West selections.  In a previous post, I mapped out the games I thought CBS had selected as their top eight games.  So after that they would have fourteen remaining selections.

ESPN has the rights to all Boise St. home games, which means that ESPN would have sixteen remaining selections in 2015 as the Broncos have six home games.   ESPN and CBS have the ability to swap one Boise St. home game for a conference road game, but I do not believe a trade of games between the networks is required.  Of the four games CBSSN has access to, I believe the road games at Utah St. and UNLV would be the ones CBS would be willing to part with.  In my opinion, the San Jose St. road game is the least likely to be offered up for a trade because of the late season date.  Similarly, the game that would least likely fit into the CBSSN schedule is the home game vs. Wyoming on 10/24.  The reasons for that will be more apparent as you continue reading.

Hawai'i is also unique because it does not partake in the Mountain West's TV deal with respect to a monetary payout.  They derive their TV revenue from a local television deal with Oceanic Cable, who makes the games available on a pay-per-view basis.  For the school to receive its maximum payout, seven games must be made available to the PPV package.  Typically the games come from the Mountain West controlled games.  The two non-conference road games they play are both at Big Ten schools (Ohio St. and Wisconsin), so those will both appear on outlets that should preclude them from being offered in a PPV package.

So let's take a look.  There are a handful of places in both the CBSSN & ESPN lists where weeknight games could be possible and I've marked them in bold.   Some games have already been moved to weeknights.

CBSSN (22 games)
Colorado at Hawai'i (9/3)
Morgan St. at Air Force (9/5)
Arizona at Nevada (9/12)
UCLA at UNLV (9/12)
Utah at Fresno St. (9/19)
New Mexico at Wyoming (9/26)
Hawai'i at Boise St. (10/3, trade for Utah St. road game with ESPN)
Fresno St. at San Diego St. (10/3)
Boise St. at Colorado St. (10/10)
New Mexico at Nevada (10/10)
UNLV at Fresno St. (10/17)
San Diego St. at San Jose St. (10/17)
San Diego St. at Colorado St. (10/31)
Boise St. at UNLV (10/31)
Army at Air Force (11/7)
Hawai'i at UNLV (11/7)
UNLV at Colorado St. (11/14)
Wyoming at San Diego St. (11/14)
Nevada at Utah St. (11/21)
Boise St. at San Jose St. (11/28)
BYU at Utah St. (11/28)
UNLV at Wyoming (11/28)

With the CBSSN schedule there is one real "problem" week and that is week eight (Thursday 10/22 - Saturday 10/24).  Currently scheduled for those days in the evening is the PBR World Finals, which are being shown live on CBSSN each of those nights at 9pm ET.  Tulane at Navy is scheduled for CBSSN at 1pm ET on 10/24 and while it is an American Athletic Conference game, it is outside the conference's TV deal as it is a Navy home game.  It is my understanding that the AAC will have at least one game a week on CBSSN coming from their TV deal, but a Mountain West game could certainly be placed here.

ESPN (22 games)
Washington at Boise St. (9/4)
Minnesota at Colorado St. (9/12)
Tulsa at New Mexico (9/12)
Idaho St. at Boise St. (9/18)
Fresno St. at San Jose St. (9/26)
Colorado St. at Utah St. (10/3)
UNLV at Nevada (10/3)
Utah St. at Fresno St. (10/10)
San Jose St. at UNLV (10/10)
Boise St. at Utah St. (10/17)
Nevada at Wyoming (10/17)
Hawai'i at New Mexico (10/17)
Wyoming at Boise St. (10/24)
New Mexico at San Jose St. (10/24)
Wyoming at Utah St. (10/31)
BYU at San Jose St. (11/7)
New Mexico at Boise St. (11/14)
San Jose St. at Nevada (11/14)
Air Force at Boise St. (11/21)
San Diego St. at UNLV (11/21)
Colorado St. at Fresno St. (11/28)
Nevada at San Diego St. (11/28)

One note regarding Boise St. - up to three of their Mountain West controlled games can air on non-Saturday dates.  They currently have three total weeknight games with two of those games part of the Mountain West TV contract: 9/4 vs. Washington and 9/18 vs. Idaho St.  A third game, at Virginia on 9/25, is not part of the count because it is part of the ACC's package of games.  With that said, each of the past two years have seen BSU with two non-Saturday games in the Mountain West and a third non-Saturday game as a non-conference road or neutral site game, so if that trend continues, the remainder of the Broncos' schedule could be Saturday games.  But one more game could move to a weeknight on ESPN.

Also, remember that ESPN can spread its initial 22 games among all of its platforms, including ESPNEWS and ESPN3.

Hawai'i PPV (7 games, webcasts back to mainland on MW Digital Network)
UC Davis at Hawai'i (9/19)
San Diego St. at Hawai'i (10/10)
Hawai'i at Nevada (10/24)
Air Force at Hawai'i (10/31)
Fresno St. at Hawai'i (11/14)
San Jose St. at Hawai'i (11/21)
UL-Monroe at Hawai'i (11/28)

ROOT Sports (9 games, out-of-market webcasts on MW Digital Network)
New Mexico St. at New Mexico (10/3)
Wyoming at Air Force (10/10)
Air Force at Colorado St. (10/17)
Utah St. at San Diego St. (10/24)
Colorado St. at Wyoming (11/7)
Utah St. at New Mexico (11/7)
Utah St. at Air Force (11/14)
Colorado St. at New Mexico (11/21)
Air Force at New Mexico (11/28)

San Diego St. has had a game in the regional package each of the last two seasons.  FOX Sports San Diego has picked up the ROOT Sports production in both cases.  Note that Utah St. at San Diego St. is the same Saturday (10/24) where CBSSN may not be able to carry a Mountain West game.

MW Digital Network (some Campus Insiders productions, some self produced)
Southern Utah at Utah St. (9/3)
UC Davis at Nevada (9/3)
New Hampshire at San Jose St. (9/3)
Savannah St. at Colorado St. (9/5)
Mississippi Valley St. at New Mexico (9/5)
Abilene Christian at Fresno St. (9/5)
North Dakota at Wyoming (9/5)
San Diego at San Diego St. (9/5)
San Jose St. at Air Force (9/12)
Eastern Michigan at Wyoming (9/12)
South Alabama at San Diego St. (9/19)
Idaho St. at UNLV (9/26)
Fresno St. at Air Force (10/24)
Nevada at Fresno St. (11/7)

In 2013, the Mountain West Digital Network carried three intraconference games, but just one in 2014.  I have three on the digital network this year.

Finally, ESPN and CBSSN can come back and choose two games each once ROOT and Campus Insiders/MW Networks chooses the games they will produce.  For the purpose of this exercise, I didn't place a 23rd or 24th game on either TV partner's schedule.  ESPN could certainly add two and place them on ESPN3, where CBSSN doesn't have the digital exclusive platform to use at this time.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

MBK Event Scheduling for '15-'16 and Football Championship Game Legislation

* Was going through the college basketball schedule for next year and noticed that both the Gonzaga vs. Pittsburgh from Okinawa, Japan and the Washington vs. Texas game from Shanghai, China will tip off on Friday 11/13/15 in US time zones.  The game from China will be an 11am local start on Saturday in Shanghai which equates to a 10pm ET start.  The start time of the game in Okinawa has not yet been determined, but I would suspect that is will start at 9am(?) locally on Saturday to start at 8pm ET.

The tie-in with ESPN's potential college football games is the following, assuming ESPN carries both games:
  • Whatever college football game ESPN would air likely airs on ESPN2 or ESPNU
    • ESPNU depends on scheduling of games, including "host" rounds of events that ESPN has rights to, like the CBE Classic, etc.
    • ESPN2 could be open for a game like USC at Colorado
    • ESPN usually airs a single NBA game late or skips this Friday completely.
      • I think it is less likely for ESPN2 to pick up an NBA game.  Regular season games air on ESPN with rare exceptions.
* Per an article from Sports Business Journal regarding FOX Sports' move into event management, the Las Vegas Invitational event will be a Friday & Saturday event during the Thanksgiving break.  Having two games on Friday shouldn't be necessarily that surprising as the event was a Thursday & Friday event last year.  The championship round is a bigger deal since it would be on the final full Saturday of the college football season.  Depending how the event is scheduled into FOX's programming schedule, it could lead to potentially one less telecast window on 11/28.

One possibility was alluded to by FOX Sports VP Dan Shell (my emphasis in bold):
Because of our ownership of the event, it gives us the ability to deliver pretty good college basketball content to Fox Sports 1 and potentially Fox Sports 2 without paying for it and, hopefully, making a little bit of money on it.
Do not be surprised if the 3rd place game or the Friday games end up on FS2 as FOX works on their college football schedule for FS1.

* The NCAA will receive legislation in the fall that will potentially allow conferences to determine their own rules for playing a conference championship game in football.  Conferences are currently required to have a minimum of twelve members and there must be round robin play within a division.

The legislation being presented to the NCAA would allow a conference like Big 12, at ten members, to play a game, presumably by taking the top two schools in the standings, or the ACC taking its top two ranked teams vs. taking a division champion. For example, Florida St. could play Clemson instead of Duke if Clemson is ranked higher.

(There was also something regarding the ACC splitting into three divisions and taking the top two division champions.  I don't know if that means Notre Dame would be a full member.  I frankly don't want to know.  I've intentionally stayed away from places where the talk has primarily been realignment rumors.)

Yes, they do have a round robin schedule, which should in theory eliminate the need for a championship if tiebreakers are used to determine "One True Champion".  And, at a high level, schools that would be the power brokers might be less inclined to agree that the game is needed.  From Allen Kenney, founder and editor of Blatant Homerism:

To provide additional context, between those two tweets, Allen listed several of Oklahoma's future non-conference opponents, which provides additional context to the 2nd tweet.  External forces, such as the inability to schedule quality non-conference opponents, could force a school to consider if playing another conference school can help strengthen a resume.

From a financial point of view, I think it is worth having the discussion and requesting some proposals, officially or unofficially, from TV partners and potential hosts, or make the decision to go to a school site host.  Can't hurt from a dollars and cents point of view to ask around.  In terms of the CFP, at worst, the Big 12 champ is playing in the Sugar Bowl in years where both the Sugar and the Big 12 champ is not involved in the playoff.   At best?  A school in the CFP and a second school in the Sugar, again if they are not part of the playoff.

If a seventh ranked school defeating a tenth ranked opponent could put them over the hump on that final weekend, isn't it worth having the discussion, if it already hasn't happened within the context of this potential legislation?  And to be fair and provide a counterpoint, the same scenario can happen without the need for a championship game using smart scheduling techniques, but that regular season game is already bought and paid for where a conference championship game could be an additional revenue stream.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Handicapping the TV Outlets for C-USA, Big 12 & Pac-12 Weeknight & Special Date Games

Wanted to go through the currently scheduled weeknight games from the Big 12, Pac-12 and C-USA.  These three conferences, because their rights are split between multiple entities, usually do not set television assignments for their weeknight games until later in the spring.

With all of these conferences, plus conferences like the Mountain West or independent BYU, there could be more weeknight games forthcoming.  For now, I am assuming no games will get placed on FOX Sports 2.

Game Time (ET) Day of Week TV Options
UTSA at Arizona 09/03/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Michigan at Utah 09/03/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Weber St. at Oregon St. 09/04/2015 08:00 PM   Friday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Purdue at Marshall 09/06/2015 03:00 PM   Sunday CBSSN or FOX Sports
Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky 09/10/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday CBSSN or FOX Sports
Miami (FL) at FAU 09/11/2015 08:00 PM   Friday CBSSN or FOX Sports
Utah St. at Utah 09/11/2015 09:00 PM   Friday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
New Mexico at Arizona St. 09/18/2015 10:00 PM   Friday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Stanford at Oregon St. 09/25/2015 12:00 AM   Friday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Temple at Charlotte 10/02/2015 12:00 AM   Friday CBSSN or FOX Sports
Washington at USC 10/08/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Southern Miss at Marshall 10/09/2015 07:00 PM   Friday CBSSN or FOX Sports
UCLA at Stanford 10/15/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Western Kentucky at North Texas 10/15/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday CBSSN or FOX Sports
California at UCLA 10/22/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
West Virginia at TCU 10/29/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks or FOX Sports
Oregon at Arizona St. 10/29/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Louisiana Tech at Rice 10/30/2015 12:00 AM   Friday CBSSN or FOX Sports
Baylor at Kansas St. 11/05/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks or FOX Sports
Rice at UTEP 11/06/2015 12:00 AM   Friday CBSSN or FOX Sports
USC at Colorado 11/13/2015 12:00 AM   Friday ESPN Networks, FS1, Pac-12 Networks
Texas Tech at Texas 11/26/2015 12:00 AM   Thursday ESPN Networks or FOX Sports
Oregon St. at Oregon 11/27/2015 12:00 AM   Friday ABC, ESPN Networks, FSMG, Pac-12 Networks
Washington St. at Washington 11/27/2015 12:00 AM   Friday ABC, ESPN Networks, FSMG, Pac-12 Networks
Marshall at Western Kentucky 11/27/2015 12:00 AM   Friday CBSSN or FOX Sports
Baylor at TCU 11/27/2015 12:00 AM   Friday ABC, ESPN Networks or FOX Sports

Here are a few things that stuck out to me:
  • Some of the C-USA games had times while others did not.  The Purdue at Marshall, Miami (FL) at FAU and Southern Miss at Marshall games had start times attached to them.  But I don't think that means each was selected by the same network.
  • By both Utah at Utah St. & Miami (FL) at FAU being selected for the same night and having start times within an hour of each other, that eliminates a potential FS1 doubleheader.  One game should end up on FS1 though.
  • FOX has a commitment to MLB for the ALDS & ALCS on FS1 presumably for 2-3 weeks.  Using Thursday 10/8 as a start date for the DS series, FS1's coverage should be scheduled from Friday 10/9 - Thursday 10/15 (NLCS started first in '13, ALCS started first in '14) , with the ALCS from Saturday 10/17 - Sunday 10/25.
    • FOX ran into an issue with a Pac-12 game on a Thursday night having to be moved to FS2 with additional local coverage plus Pac-12 Networks due to an NLCS conflict last year.
  • The placement of the Las Vegas Invitational basketball event on FS1 will factor into how many games they can pick up on Friday 11/27.  Same with ESPN's coverage of their owned & operated basketball events plus the NIT Tip Off, along with a new doubleheader event from Miami
Here's how I see things being set with some notes:

Game Guessed Network Notes
UTSA at Arizona Pac-12 Networks
Michigan at Utah FOX Sports 1
Weber St. at Oregon St. Pac-12 Networks
Purdue at Marshall FOX Sports 1
Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky FOX Sports 1 FS1 has carried C-USA on opening NFL Thursday in '13 & '14
Miami (FL) at FAU FOX Sports 1 USU-UoU could air on FS1 & this game on CBSSN
Utah St. at Utah ESPN2 ESPN has US Open men's semifinals
New Mexico at Arizona St. FOX Sports 1 After NASCAR truck series race
Stanford at Oregon St. ESPN Doubleheader w/Boise St. at Virginia
Temple at Charlotte CBSSN
Washington at USC ESPN SMU-Houston already on ESPN2 to clear way for this one
Southern Miss at Marshall CBSSN Assuming FS1 has MLB postseason
UCLA at Stanford ESPN Assuming FS1 has MLB postseason. Doubleheader with Auburn-Kentucky (?)
Western Kentucky at North Texas CBSSN Assuming FS1 has MLB postseason. Potentially on FSN
California at UCLA ESPN Assuming FS1 has MLB postseason. Doubleheader with Temple-ECU (?).
West Virginia at TCU FOX Sports 1 Assuming FS1 doubleheader
Oregon at Arizona St. FOX Sports 1 Assuming FS1 doubleheader
Louisiana Tech at Rice CBSSN FS1 has NASCAR truck series race at 8:30pm ET
Baylor at Kansas St. FOX Sports 1 Assuming ESPN carries Mississippi St.-Missouri
Rice at UTEP CBSSN NASCAR truck race on FS1 at 8:30pm ET
USC at Colorado ESPN2 ESPN has Armed Forces Classic & NBA game(?).  FS1 has truck series at 8pm ET
Texas Tech at Texas ESPN
Oregon St. at Oregon ABC Doubleheader with Iowa at Nebraska
Washington St. at Washington FOX Sports 1 Depends on the Las Vegas Invitational
Marshall at Western Kentucky FOX Sports 1 If CBSSN does not have a MW game on 11/27, could air on that network
Baylor at TCU FOX