Friday, June 26, 2015

A few thoughts on Big 12 membership with respect to TV

I hate realignment.  But people open their mouths, articles get written, facts come out, etc.  And I'm not going to handicap whether they add anybody or whether one school is more likely than another.'s Jon Solomon wrote a very good article on the Big 12 and wanted to point two items he wrote that I believe get lost in the whole realignment thing.  First one:
There's a line of thinking among some lower-budget Big 12 schools that the 10-member conference has incredibly helped their television exposure. Instead of playing some important football and basketball games on a conference network, some Big 12 schools are getting more attention than ever by playing on ESPN and Fox.
And it is mostly valid.  I've mentioned this before, probably back when the Pac-16 was a possibility, that we're limited to around nine hours on a Saturday when games can feasibly start for Big 12 schools (11am - 8pm locally).  Assuming no new distribution methods are created on the scale of FOX Sports 1 or ESPNU, where do those other games go?  FSN, which isn't a 100% national distribution?  Do you grant exclusive distribution via digital outlets like ESPN3 and FOX Sports Go?  Are you amenable to games on television networks like FOX Sports 2 and FOX College Sports, which aren't in nearly as many homes?  Are you willing to have Friday night games while high school football is going on?  The answer to some of these questions might not have been the same as a few years ago when your TV contracts were built around network exclusivity.

Second item:
Would expansion reopen the Big 12's TV contracts that are through 2025? "The answer is we would suggest that it does," Bowlsby said. "I don't know if our TV partners would agree with that."
This is the biggest risk of expansion.  The television rightsholder generally has the say-so when it comes to paying more or less, and its why they are usually consulted during the vetting process.  Granted I'm citing the C-USA contract from 2005-11 with ESPN because it was entered as evidence as part of a lawsuit, but its details say two things re: conference composition (paraphrasing):

1) If teams leave (the members the agreement covers are generally specified by name), both the network and conference can negotiate in good faith to determine a new rights.  Incoming members will be considered as part of those negotiations. In the case of the C-USA agreement, if no agreement between the parties was reached, ESPN at its sole discretion could reduce the rights fee proportionally by the number of lost teams compared to previous number of membership (ie. Cut rights fee by 16% if you lose two members out of a 12 member conference and do not replace them.  This was where ESPN and FOX cut the Big 12 a break originally when they went from twelve to ten).

2) If teams are added only & increase the number of members, good faith negotiations occur.  In the C-USA TV deal being referenced, and I know I'm extrapolating to a Big 12 TV deal that I have not seen, but by Bob Bowlsby's quote above, there's no guarantee that existing TV partners are required to pay more or would pay enough to make all existing Big 12 schools "whole" with respect to the current amount they receive from the Big 12 TV deals.

In short, ESPN and FOX don't care how you, as a conference, decide to distribute the TV money they pay the conference.  That's on you.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Potential MBK 24 Hour Tip Off Games for 2015 & Other Items

* ESPN's 24 hour college basketball tipoff marathon is starting to take shape.  The event culminates with the Champions Classic doubleheader in Chicago with Kansas vs. Michigan St. & Kentucky vs. Duke, but the undercard is always interesting.  Three other games that appear to be set for the event are San Diego St. at Utah, Nevada at Hawai'i and Manhattan at St. Mary's.  The St. Mary's game, per Jon Rothstein, was noted to be a 2am ET / 11pm PT start.

ESPN tends to classify the marathon games as starting around 6pm or 7pm on Monday evening.  Other potential games that could be part of the marathon:

Tennessee at Georgia Tech (11/16)
Virginia at George Washington (11/16)
Baylor at Oregon (11/16)
Colorado at Auburn (11/17, a rematch from last year's marathon)
Oklahoma at Memphis (11/17)
Georgetown at Maryland (11/17)

The event also is a place where ESPN can burn off appearances for smaller conference, usually during the Tuesday morning games.  Prelim / "home rounds" of events like the CBE Classic or Legends Classic end up here too, along with a few women's basketball games.  Expect to see games hosted by schools from conferences like the MAAC, Big South, SoCon and other small conferences during the Tuesday morning rounds.

* With the remaining American Athletic Conference games in the early portion of the season set for telecasts or webcasts, the first three weeks of FBS telecasts is just about set.  There may be a few digital exclusives added from the Mountain West or C-USA digital networks, a possible ASN game for C-USA (one game is to be added at some point of the season) and a few Big 12 games are awaiting their final destinations.  FCS games will start to be set in July on the schedule pages as I like to wait until after conferences and schools make any possible website hosting changes, which usually occur on July 1st.

"Shameless schedule plug"

* For the American, twelve games have been set for ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.  To get to a minimum of 28 games on ABC plus the three networks already mentioned, sixteen games will be selected through the in-season selection process (ie. 12 days in advance, sometimes as late as six days) over ten weeks (weeks four through thirteen).

* The Southland Conference has joined up with the American Sports Network to produce football telecasts in 2015.  From what I have been told, this will replace the Southland TV Network syndication package.  The conference will make television & webcast decisions for the ASN & ESPN3 packages during the year instead of in advance.

I am somewhat interested to see how these telecasts are placed into the schedule as the Southland and Conference USA share a very concentrated footprint of the states of Texas & Louisiana.

* SBNation's Blogging the Bracket writer Chris Dobbertean pointed out to me that the Barclays Center Classic & the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (the latter does not yet have any teams set for it) have not been placed on the Barclays Center event calendar, nor has the potential move of the NIT Tip Off to Brooklyn as the dates needed for the event at MSG were unavailable.

The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, using last year's dates, would have been played on Friday 11/20 & Saturday 11/21.  The NIT, again based on previous dates, would have been played Wednesday 11/25 & Friday 11/27.  For both events, both of the quarterfinal / first date of games happen to be taken by Islanders games.

The Barclays Center Classic has schools attached to it and regional rounds scheduled.  The BCC has typically been held the two days after Thanksgiving and the arena is allegedly scheduled to host a Louisville vs. Saint Louis neutral site game over that weekend, per Jon Rothstein.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Potential MW Secondary TV packages (ROOT, MWN) desingations

While we wait for a handful of football games to be set for weeks one & two from the American, BYU and Mountain West...

ROOT Sports (regional TV) and the Campus Insiders' Mountain West Network (digital network) get the next set of selections for the Mountain West.  Usually the ROOT Sports package has a slant towards the schools located in the areas where ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain is the primary RSN.  ROOT Sports Northwest happens to serve the rest of Idaho and ROOT Sports Southwest has a slice of New Mexico which overlaps with the Rocky Mountain RSN, but the Rocky Mountain RSN has five Mountain West schools within its territory: Air Force, Colorado St., New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah St. and those schools are often the ones featured in their package of games.  All Boise St. games, which would also be a geographical fit, have been earmarked for the ESPN and CBS Sports Network packages.

Here's the available games and what package they could be set for.  Considerations were made with respect to the close of the Colorado Rockies season, which has games on four of the first five Saturdays of the season.  Several of the ROOT Sports games could be paired with games already selected for ROOT's Big Sky football package.

As far as I know ROOT and Campus Insiders pick the games they intend to produce.  It is a key distinction as many games airing on the Mountain West Network are produced by the schools.  After that ESPN and CBSSN can come back and select two games each if they desire.  

Also, Hawai'i has its own PPV package as it does not receive revenues from the conference's television packages, so those eight games will be set aside for those packages.

ROOT SportsMountain West NetworkHawai'i PPV
Morgan St. at Air Force (9/5)Southern Utah at Utah St. (9/3)UC Davis at Hawai'i (9/19)
New Mexico at Wyoming (9/26)Abilene Christian at Fresno St. (9/3)San Diego St. at Hawai'i (10/10)
New Mexico St. at New Mexico (10/3)UC Davis at Nevada (9/3)Hawai'i at New Mexico (10/17)
New Mexico at Nevada (10/10)New Hampshire at San Jose St. (9/5)Hawai'i at Nevada (10/24)
New Mexico at San Jose St. (10/24)North Dakota at Wyoming (9/5)Hawai'i at UNLV (11/7)
UNLV at Colorado St. (11/14)San Diego at San Diego St. (9/5)Fresno St. at Hawai'i (11/14)
Colorado St. at New Mexico (11/21)Savannah St. at Colorado St. (9/5)San Jose St. at Hawai'i (11/21)
UNLV at Wyoming (11/28)Mississippi Valley St. at New Mexico (9/5)UL-Monroe at Hawai'i (11/28)
Tulsa at New Mexico (9/12)
Eastern Michigan at Wyoming (9/12)
South Alabama at San Diego St. (9/19)
Idaho St. at UNLV (9/26)
UNLV at Nevada (10/3)
San Jose St. at UNLV (10/10)
San Jose St. at Nevada (11/14)

A few notes on my selections

* New Mexico at Wyoming and Northern Arizona at Montana, in this scenario, would be played at the same time with the Mountain West game on ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain and the Big Sky game on ROOT Sports Northwest.  Both RSNs are scheduled to carry MLB games in the evening.
* Morgan St. at Air Force was placed on ROOT Sports because it is the only Air Force game available to be carried outside of the national television packages, which gave it the nod over the North Dakota at Wyoming game.
* I considered placing Southern Utah at Utah St. on ROOT Sports, but there is a Rockies game that evening.  ROOT does have the capability of doing secondary feeds as they do them to show Utah Jazz games.  In most cases, pro sports trumps college sports on RSNs, but exceptions do occur.
* The Hawai'i PPV package requires seven games for the school to receive a minimum payout of $2.3 million.  Since there are eight games in the package listed above, I do not know if one of the games can be selected by ESPN, CBSSN or air on the Mountain West Network.  ROOT Sports could certainly simulcast one of the PPV games as well.
* In the end, there is some flexibility.  During Fresno St.'s undefeated run in 2013, ESPN and the MWN swapped games on 11/9.  ESPN swapped their pre-selected Nevada at Colorado St. game in exchange for Fresno St. at Wyoming, which they placed on ESPN2.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

'15 Early Season Schedule Notes & Misc. Items

Overall Notes
* Potential openings for the following games:
  • 9/5 
    • Penn St. at Temple: 12pm on ABC or 3:30pm on ESPN.  I still believe that ESPN2 will be used for all day US Open coverage.
  • 9/12
    • Boise St. at BYU: The only remaining ESPN or ESPN2 opening is after East Carolina at Florida on ESPN2.  Could be a 10:15pm ET start.  
      • The opening on ESPN at ~3pm is for the US Open women's final
    • San Jose St. at Air Force: 8pm ESPNEWS or 10:15pm ESPNU, if either opening is used.  It could also air on ESPN3
    • Army at UConn, North Texas at SMU & Temple at Cincinnati:  12pm CBSSN and/or 8pm ESPNEWS.  One game, it appears, will be on ESPN3.
    • Stephen F. Austin at TCU: I don't think it is an ESPN platform game.  If it is, I don't think the Big 12 contract allows for ESPN3 exclusives or ESPNEWS games, unless something is being worked on.
Other Mountain West and C-USA games should air as part of regional or web exclusive packages.  Sun Belt ESPN3 games without a start time could be decided at any time.  Could have been waiting for SEC game decisions for game placement.

* It appears that ESPN will not have a Thursday night game on Thanksgiving.  The last year that ESPN did not air a college football game on Thanksgiving was 1997, courtesy the lists at

Big Ten
* Six games will air on ESPNEWS over the first three weeks.  Five games total aired on ESPNEWS in 2014, none after the fifth week of the season.  A possible consequence of the slightly compressed schedule in 2015 with one less week on the schedule, but BTN has only one game scheduled for 9/5 and a pair of single game telecast windows, both at 3:30pm ET, on 9/12 and 9/19.

* "Sigh" on ESPN going with a three hour telecast window for North Carolina vs. South Carolina, which means you'll probably need to fire up WatchESPN to watch the start of TCU at Minnesota or look to ESPNEWS, maybe.

* Since CBSSN took UNLV at Northern Illinois, the MAC should have two other Saturday games on the network.  Specific windows were not announced in the MAC release.  Both 11/7 and 11/21 have two potential openings, which could allow CBSSN to take both an American & MAC game if they want.

Other possibilities, if Navy's home game is the only American conference game for a particular week (it would not count towards their sublicense agreement with ESPN) are 10/3 at 12pm (six available games), 10/24 after 4:30pm (six available games), 10/31 at 7pm (two available games) and 11/14 at 7pm (two available games).

* The two MAC Thursday night games on CBSSN will be set at least 12 days in advance.

* More of a personal item - neutral site games and whose rights they belong to will be my bugaboo. had the goods on the contract for Louisville-Auburn having a CBS offer in it, and Alabama beat writer Michael Cassagrande published some key items on the contract for the Alabama-Wisconsin game in Arlington.  What was one of those key items?  SEC controls the TV rights.  So how does it end up on ABC, who cannot air SEC games?  No idea, so from here on out, they don't get listed on the conference specific pages.

* During the telecast windows for the games that ESPN has sublicensed to CBS on 9/5 and 9/12, ESPN will carry concurrent games on ESPN2 and ESPNU.  This would normally not be allowed during CBS's telecast windows, but since these were games that ESPN sold to CBS, they seem to be classified as ESPN telecast windows where they can air as many games as they need to.  Once 9/19 comes around and CBS's contract windows kick in, only the SEC Network can air a concurrent game during the mid afternoon.

Miscellaneous Notes
* The new Patriot League rights deal with CBS Sports Network will no longer require football games to be aired, per Patriot League PR.  The previous deal required two football games to be chosen by the network.  The new deal is for a minimum of 24 Patriot League events to be aired by CBSSN and they can come from any sport.  Would expect around half of them to be men's basketball games.

* FOX Sports 1 will again carry the championship & 3rd place games of the Las Vegas Classic.  FOX has taken over operations of both Las Vegas events previously run by Basketball Tournaments, Inc.

* Keep an eye on the potential Baylor vs. Cal game in Australia in 2016.  I'm curious to see if this article still holds true and that the media rights will belong to the Pac-12 or if it is signed as part of a series where there will be a game in Berkeley, which would mean the game gets classified as a Big 12 game.

Also, is the organization of this game tied to the potential bowl game to be played in Melbourne, including the potential network?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Remaining CFB Early Season Start Times & Potential TV Windows

Short answer: Not much.

The SEC (lumping Arizona St. vs. Texas A&M in with them) plus a handful of games from the American, Mountain West and Boise St. at BYU, are waiting to be set.  Here is what is available along with the Google Sheets doc that I use to track open TV windows.  It gets filled out as the year goes on.

C-USA and the Mountain West also have regional TV and web exclusive packages to be announced.  C-USA's ASN package may have been announced by the time you've read this post. Only in the case of the Mountain West would there be any effect on national TV packages.

ESPN: Looks like two telecast windows.  Would be after 3:30pm ET.
ESPN2: Appears to be all day coverage of the US Open.
ESPNU: Looks like two telecast windows.  Would be after 3:30pm ET.
SEC Network: Three potential telecast windows, using 12:30pm, 4pm & 7:30pm from last season.
ABC: Maybe a 12pm ET game.
CBSSN: Maybe an 11pm ET game.
FSN: 3:30pm

There are 11 games to be slotted.  Ten from the SEC, again including Arizona St. at Texas A&M, plus Penn St. at Temple.  SEC Network could air two games at a time, six games in total.

CBSSN could choose to air a Mountain West game on 9/5 (San Diego at San Diego St. at 11pm ET ?) as one of their two selections after regional & Mountain West Network packages are filled.

As for the US Open, it is my understanding that ABC will not have any live telecast windows, at least on Saturdays, so I don't think they would show tennis at 12pm ET-3:30pm ET, then shift to ESPN2. If the ABC telecast window is needed, that might be the place for Penn St. at Temple since ABC is not allowed to air any SEC controlled home games.  

Since the Louisville vs Auburn game was sublicensed to CBS to ESPN, it may be feasible for ESPN to air a concurrent SEC game on ESPN and/or ESPNU.  Will check on that.

I don't know if there are any other SEC games moving off of 9/5.  I would think they would be announced as moving by now, even if the TV network is to be determined.

FSN has a TBA window at 3:30pm with a Sam Houston St. at Texas Tech game waiting for a start time, but airing on FSN.  Simple match, right?  I assume that Texas Tech would prefer to air their game in the evening and FOX is trying to work out a way for that to occur.  FSN is scheduled to air Georgia Southern at West Virginia at 7:30pm and FOX Sports Southwest, the institutional rightsholder for Texas Tech, has a Rangers game scheduled on 9/5 at 9pm ET.  FOX may be working towards how they can best distribute all three events, or at least how to clear both the Rangers & Red Raiders games in Texas.

ESPN: One to two games.  Maybe starting at 7pm ET.
ESPN2: Same as ESPN, dependent on network airing Washington St. at Rutgers 
ESPNU: Potentially three or four openings, dependent on network airing Washington St. at Rutgers.
ESPNEWS: Potentially 8pm ET
SEC Network: Three potential telecast windows, using 12:30pm, 4pm & 7:30pm from last season.
CBSSN: One at 12pm ET.
FS1: One at 3:30pm ET.
FSN: One at 3pm ET.

ESPN appears to be set up to air the US Open women's final on 9/12 after 3pm ET.  I do not know the start time of the match but a 4pm ET start would make sense.  It would allow ESPN about an hour of fill time, possibly half of it on CFB highlights, half on a pre-match show.

CBSSN is expected to air an American game at 12pm ET.  The other two games would stay with ESPN.  Potential exists for the other two games to air on ESPN3 or to air on ESPNEWS at 8pm.

SEC Network could carry up to six of the nine SEC games available.

Boise St. at BYU and San Jose St. at Air Force are available.  Boise St. at BYU is scheduled for either ESPN or ESPN2 while San Jose St. at Air Force could air on any ESPN platform.

The two FOX cable openings seem to be for the UTEP at Texas Tech & Stephen F. Austin at TCU games.  It is possible that FOX's decision is tied to how they handle Texas Tech's game on 9/5.  The other issue here is that FSN is already tied up with two games at 7:30pm ET (Lamar at Baylor & Central Arkansas at Oklahoma St.) along with FOX Sports Southwest televising a Rangers game starting 30 minutes later.  Both of these games look like they could air during midday unless alternate distribution methods are lined up for one of these events.

ESPN: One to two windows.  Depends on how early they decide to start their evening window.  If it starts at 6pm, they can do a 9pm or 9:15pm game.  If it starts at 7pm or later, one game.
ESPN2: One window after 7pm ET.
ESPNU: 12pm & 7pm ET.

SEC Network: Three potential telecast windows, using 12:30pm, 4pm & 7:30pm from last season.

This week is strictly dealing with the SEC with nine games available from the conference.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Big 12 Member Retained Games & FOX's Selection Process and a Roundup on Other Items

* One of the interesting items around the institutionally held game for each Big 12 school is that FOX is the one who makes the decision on which game each school gets to hold.  FOX also holds the institutional rights to six Big 12 schools (Baylor, Kansas St., Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., TCU and Texas Tech), so as they decide their regional schedule, they might decide to leave a game vs. a FCS school as part of the national rightsholder package and give a game back to the school vs. a FBS school.  The institutionally held games are listed here under the Regional Telecasts & Internet Exclusives.

There were three* places where this occurred as part of the initial Big 12 schedule release and two of them involved schools where FOX is also the institutional rights holder (SMU at TCU and Rice at Baylor).   The third, Memphis at Kansas, has institutional rights granted to Time Warner Cable from IMG College and distributed out of market by ESPN3.   The games that ended up as part of the national package were South Dakota St. at Kansas, Lamar at Baylor and Stephen F. Austin at TCU.  Two of the games have been picked up by FSN while the Stephen F. Austin-TCU game waits for its television option (ESPN or FOX platform).

*Both Texas & Oklahoma will play FBS schools as part of their institutional package, but neither plays a FCS school in '15.

While FOX makes the decision, I do wonder if ESPN gets any input and if they do, when (ie. after they've made their top choice for a week?).  TCU and Baylor should be a top ten or top five teams coming into the year and if ESPN was interested in spending a Big 12 pick on one of these games (and they may not be), do they have the ability to provide notice to their intention of selecting one?  Otherwise, it could be interpreted as FOX gaming the system to their benefit as many of the institutional games on FSN are not limited to FOX Sports Southwest, for example, but are provided to any FOX affiliated RSN who has the space to air the game.  ESPN wouldn't be very likely to show a FBS vs. FCS game on one of their national platforms, though they have when they've involved SEC schools, but when you have nineteen Big 12 selections to use, you also don't want to waste one on a game that isn't going to be very competitive.

* As MAC media guy Ken Mather mentioned on the day of the CBSSN announcement, they are hopeful to announce more television and start time information this coming week, presumably with ESPN.  Whether that applies to other conferences who have not fully released early season & special date telecast information (American, Big Ten, Big 12(?), SEC & Sun Belt), I don't know.

* One notable item regarding the new MAC sublicensing agreement with CBS Sports Network and the rights that the network currently has for Navy home football games is that both will expire at the same time.  At that point after the 2018 season, CBSSN would in theory have eighteen open football telecast windows to discuss with ESPN potentially for any alterations to their sublicense agreements for the MAC or American Athletic Conference, or potentially market to any other conference that has an upcoming rights agreement expiring.

* A couple items on the MW and C-USA, because people have asked:

  • CBS did pick up their four year option on the Mountain West rights they hold that primarily air on CBS Sports Network.  I don't know when they did this.  For all I know the option was picked up in 2013 after it was announced that Boise St. and San Diego St. were going to remain in the conference, or it could have been picked up when CBS declined to pick up the football conference championship game under a separate contract.
  • The Charleston Gazette had a note about the ongoing C-USA rights negotiations.  I did ask the C-USA office who was allowed to negotiate for the conference's football championship game.  The game, as you may know, was part of FOX's rights agreement, but provided to ESPN to settle a lawsuit between the conference and the network.  My question to them involved whether ESPN's agreement with FOX was a sublicense or if they were the primary rightsholder and had the right of first offer / first refusal on the game.   The conference did respond, but declined to provide a comment due to ongoing negotiations.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Notes on CBSSN sublicense of MAC content from ESPN

MAC release


* First, the Hustle Belt got the MAC commissioner to open up & admit that the potential for national sublicenses was open for '15.

* Next, sublicense deals ususally do not provide more cash to the conference.  Those types of deals are between media partners.  The entity receiving the rights fee continues to receive the same expected fee, but either the sublicensee pays the sublicenser who then pays the entire fee or the sublicensee pays less and the sublicenser makes up the difference.

* The two Thursday night games should come from 10/29 & 11/5.  Each of those nights has two games scheduled for those nights.  CBSSN could pick up one and the other could end up on an ESPN platform.

* For 2015, this would leave ESPN with twelve Tuesday & Wednesday night games.  I assume they will also be televising or webcasting Oklahoma St. at Central Michigan (Thursday 9/3, CBSSN doesn't have the room) and Michigan St. at Western Michigan (Friday 9/4, CBSSN committed to Army game that night).

* CBSSN appears to have an opening to carry a MAC game at 12pm ET on Friday 11/27 as the press release mentioned it would be one of CBSSN's openings.  I do not know if this will supplement a game on ESPNU, who has televised at least one MAC game on Black Friday for several years, or if this will replace that telecast.  There also happens to be three available games from the American Athletic Conference that day.  I don't know if CBSSN intended to have a tripleheader since they have carried some men's basketball events in previous years.

* As for the three Saturday games, again, I don't know if those will be pre-selected or if they will be in-season selections.  Per the MAC's football media contact Ken Mather, television information could be out as early as next week.


* I would not expect Tuesday & Wednesday games to appear on CBSSN in future years.  The MAC has built the MAC-tion brand on ESPN and it would be foolish to give up those unopposed midweek slots to a network in less homes.

* The number of MAC games on CBSSN conveniently goes up as both the Mountain West and C-USA enter the final guaranteed year of their rights agreements with the network.  Because the Mountain West deal has a four year option attached to it, assuming it is available at a decent rate, I think it is most likely to be picked up.  Don't confuse that with CBS declining the option on the MW football championship game.  The contact options are two distinct items.  I wrote about that here, about halfway down in the post.

C-USA is another story and since it isn't a large increase in content, I could envision the MAC replacing C-USA on CBSSN.  Based on the numbers (twelve football & twelve basketball games), it would be roughly a replacement.  In my opinion, CBSSN values the American sublicense more because it resembles the makeup of how C-USA looked in 2010.  I also wrote about future C-USA rightsholders back in January.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Some B-Sides: CBSSN football schedule, late C-USA starts, SEC Thursday nights & more

* ESPN's first three weeks continue to look relatively bare.  No Saturday selections were announced yesterday for the first three weeks from the Big 12 or Pac-12, except for one ABC game.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, they could be trying to firm up their US Open tennis coverage, whether the coverage is on their platforms or somewhere else.  My theory: CBS Sports Network if ESPN doesn't keep everything on the middle weekend and some early weekday coverage.  See next section where 9/5 evening is not in use for CBSSN.

Its also entirely possible that the US Open schedule is set and that nearly everything on the cable platforms will be Big Ten and SEC games, which will render the last couple paragraphs meaningless.  And that happens a lot here if you've read this blog at any point.  Ever.

* Once ESPN does get around to their SEC selections, unless they swerve and put their SEC Thursday games on SEC Network after North Carolina vs. South Carolina, my expectation is that Auburn at Kentucky will start at 7pm ET as part of a doubleheader with UCLA at Stanford and Mississippi St. at Missouri at either 7:30pm or 8pm ET.  Both on ESPN.

* With the C-USA schedule release yesterday, there are a handful of timeslots available on CBS Sports Network to fill in.  Most of them will be earmarked to the American Athletic Conference and their package of games sublicensed from ESPN, with the Patriot League and Mountain West (up to two MW games) also in the picture.   Here's a Google Sheets doc with the openings, but for those of you who are not fans of clicking on links, here it is spelled out for you (all times Eastern):

9/5: 7pm & 10:30pm
9/12: 12pm (told that this is an American game slot)
9/26: 12pm
10/3: 12pm
10/10: 3:30pm
10/17: 7pm & 10:30pm
10/24: Around 4:30pm
10/31: 7pm
11/7: 12pm & 7pm
11/14: 7pm
11/21: 3:30pm & 7pm
11/27: 12pm (ie. Black Friday)
11/28: 12pm

The two Mountain West selections, if CBSSN were to use them, would be made after the ROOT Sports regional and Mountain West Network packages have been filled, along with any Hawai'i games set aside to fill their PPV package.  The Patriot League games could be aired on weeknights as well if the schools agree to move a game.

* Omitted this one from the C-USA list, but the Mississippi St. at Southern Miss game starting at 9pm local time (10pm ET) is not new for a FOX outlet, nor is it new for C-USA or even Southern Miss.  Since 2005, here's the C-USA games with a 9pm local time start for national television:
  • 2005: Minnesota at Tulsa (ESPN2)
  • 2010: UTEP at Houston (ESPN)
  • 2011: Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss & Oklahoma St. at Tulsa (both on FSN)
  • 2014: Texas Tech at UTEP (FS1)
The Oklahoma St.-Tulsa game was a mess as it had multiple weather delays, ending somewhere around 4:30am Eastern time.  There are also a handful of 8pm & 8:15pm local time starts for C-USA over this time period, with CSTV, ESPN and FOX platforms sharing in the late starts.

* Based on the FOX press release from yesterday, which usually doesn't hold up as the season progresses, there could be six late evening Saturday Eastern time Pac-12 windows on FOX Sports 1.  The two games already selected (UCF at Stanford on 9/12, BYU at UCLA on 9/19) and four more during the season: 10/17 at 9pm, 10/31 at 11pm, 11/14 at 10pm and 11/28 at 10pm.  There's also a chance a Big 12 or C-USA game could fill those time slots based on available games.

* Using the start time of 7:30pm ET for the Texas Tech at Texas game on FS1 on Thanksgiving, expect the two televised Las Vegas Classic games to bookend the football game like last year, or they could show one on FS2 with the other on FS1.  For the Friday LVC games, those could end up following the Pac-12 football game on FS1 which starts at 4pm ET, so 8pm ET might be the start of the MBK doubleheader.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Notes on Partial Big 12, C-USA & Pac-12 CFB TV Release

If you want to look through everything on a per-week basis, here's the schedules.

First, notes on the FOX Sports CFB Release
  • Not really surprised that there are no games scheduled for FOX Sports 2.   At this time, FOX may not be able to schedule games on that network.  And they might not want to right now.
  • Unlike 2014, FOX Sports 1 stayed away from taking any Thursday or Friday night games while they would be potentially carrying the American League Division Series & Championship Series.  They took a lot of flack for having to move a game over to FOX Sports 2 and making extra plans to show the game on Pac-12 Networks and locally due to the NLCS last year.  Smart move.
  • The TV windows on their spring press release rarely ever holds up throughout the season.  Don't be surprised if there are changes made closer to the season to account for the MLB playoffs.
  • There are three "Teams TBA" windows on 9/5 & 9/12.  I think they're going to be used on the Big 12.  See their section.
  • Overall, the number of scheduled windows break down like this for the regular season:
    • FOX - 17 (-1 from '14)
    • FOX Sports 1 - 40 (-3 from '14)
      • 29 on Saturdays (-2 from '14)
    • FSN - 26 games over 25 windows (+3 games from '14)
      • Currently, one TV window has two games.
    • FCS - 10 (no change)
    • Note that 2014 was a 15 week regular season (14 weeks plus Championship Saturday) where 2015 will be 14 weeks (13 weeks plus Championship Saturday).
  • Based on the the total number of telecast windows across all outlets, here's the number of games by conference (93 games)
    • 22 - Pac-12
    • 30 - C-USA
    • 41 - Big 12
      • 36 or 37 through the national package & four or five 3rd tier games
  • Three games were set for television outlets without a start time & a fourth has not yet been set for TV
    • 9/5: Akron at Oklahoma (FOX Pay Per View) & Sam Houston St. at Texas Tech (FSN)
    • 9/12; UTEP at Texas Tech (FSN) & Stephen F. Austin at TCU (not announced)
      • For SFA at TCU, I suppose it is possible that the game could air on an ESPN platform.  This particular game is not TCU's 3rd tier game.
    • The 9/5 games are considered 3rd tier / institutional games, where the other two are part of FOX's national package.
  • Of the "Member Institution Retained Football Games" (Big 12's new phrasing), half of them (5) are against other FBS opponents.  Rice is the opponent in two of them.  Last year, three of the ten 3rd tier games involved FBS opponents.
  • This will be the first season since 2007 that ESPN will not carry a Big 12 controlled Thursday night game.  FS1 will carry all three.
  • The two Big 12 games on 12/5 will be split between the ESPN and FOX packages.  FOX says their game will be on FS1.
  • ESPN's maximum number of Big 12 games is 19.  Assuming the 12/5 game plus the Baylor at TCU game on Black Friday, they will have 17 selections to use over thirteen weeks.
  • Based on the 12/5 game plus the five FS1 selections, FOX has met it minimum for a national cable network.  FOX broadcast network will need to air another four games to achieve their broadcast network minimum of six.
  • Counting the two 12/5 games, assuming the game assigned to ESPN is on a full national platform, ten games are set for full national telecasts.  ESPN and FOX must combine for fifteen more national telecasts for the remaining weeks.  Full national games on ABC, FOX, ESPN, ESPN2 and FOX Sports 1 count towards the 25 games that must air to the country, which includes games that are reverse mirrored on ABC and either ESPN or ESPN2. 
  • In terms of when the weeknight games were announced, here's the order with the TV partner
    • Purdue at Marshall (FS1)
    • Temple at Charlotte (CBSSN)
    • Southern Miss at Marshall (CBSSN)
    • Six remaining non-Saturday moves for national TV (mix of FS1 & CBSSN)
  • Four games between 10/31 & 11/21 (one per week) will air on FOX College Sports.  Appears that FOX will include that network in the 12 day selections of its C-USA games.  Three of those four weeks have three C-USA games set aside for FOX.
  • CBSSN's number of C-USA selections remained flat compared to 2014 (seven w/three intraconference games), but will have no games after Rice at UTEP on Friday 11/6.
  • Neither FOX nor CBSSN pre-selected NC State at Old Dominion on 9/19.  CBSSN wanted to air the game on a weeknight, but NC State declined the request to move the game.  It appears the game will air as part of the American Sports Network package, which should be announced in the summer.
  • By airing Stanford at USC as a primetime game on ABC, ESPN has already achieved its minimum number of Pac-12 controlled primetime games.  What is somewhat interesting about this telecast window for ABC is that it is not exclusive.  The Pac-12 Networks will be airing games throughout this telecast window.
  • Counting FOX's Black Friday window, they have two of their eight broadcast network selections accounted for.  Of the minimum six remaining selections for FOX broadcast network, at least four have to air in primetime.  
    • Note that Saturday afternoon windows on broadcast networks are not intended to be exclusive.  Only Saturday night windows and it appears exclusivity can be waived in select cases.  
  • Both ESPN and FOX have fifteen selections remaining per network over ten Saturdays.
  • FOX Sports 1 will carry three weeknight games, one of which is on Black Friday.  This is down from five last year, which did not have a Black Friday game.
  • Pac-12 Networks on 9/19 has an odd start time for the Wyoming at Washington St. game.  I assume the Utah St. at Washington and Wyoming at Washington St. games will be attached to each other on the Northwest RSN and possibly the Rocky Mountain RSN.  Right now, I would expect all other networks to air the San Jose St. at Oregon St. game.
  • The move of New Mexico at Arizona St. to Friday 9/18 "will be televised live to a national audience on a network to be announced later".  While Pac-12 Networks is offered through many providers on a national basis through sports tiers outside of the conference footprint, in my opinion, this doesn't quite feel like a national telecast.  I completely understand the need to move it as both Arizona & Arizona St. would have been playing in the evening on 9/19 without the move, potentially on the Pac-12 Networks.