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.  

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