Friday, July 31, 2015

Quick hitters on the Bayou Classic, MBK events and MVC on CBS & CBSSN

Some random stuff, quick hits, etc.

* As mentioned in a previous post, the Missouri Valley Conference and ESPN struck a new rights agreement.  One of the items that caught my eye was that ESPN retained the rights to the men's basketball conference tournament semifinals, since they had aired on the MVC TV Network previously, along with the championship game.

Now we have a home for the semifinals: CBS Sports Network.  The semifinals along with eight regular season men's basketball games will air on CBSSN and CBS will remain as the home of the tournament championship game.  CBS had aired the championship for ten years and the 2016 game would have been the last game under an existing sublicense agreement.

The semifinals will air on CBSSN starting this year.  ESPN currently sublicenses events from the American, MAC and MVC to CBSSN.  CBSSN also has a sublicense with FOX for Big East content.

My expectation is that the regular season games on CBSSN will be in addition to games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU and not that games will be moving from ESPN outlets over to CBSSN.

* Also, as part of the MVC-ESPN rights agreement, local & regional television agreements, including the MVC TV Network that has aired on regional sports networks will be retained per the teleconference announcing the agreement.  As for the ESPN3 production equipment rollout, I do not know how quickly that will happen, but Southern Illinois appears to be one of the schools getting their equipment soon based on the TV outlet for their home non-conference men's basketball schedule.  Indiana St. will also show games on ESPN3 this year and is looking for students to help out.

* The Maui Invitational and Paradise Jam television schedules have been released, at least most of the schedule for Maui as the game times for 11/25 are to be determined.  Game times for the Paradise Jam have been adjusted from the original bracket to account for CBSSN airing a football game on the evening of November 20th.

* When the SWAC released their TV schedule, they originally had a graphic that had the Bayou Classic game (Grambling vs. Southern) on NBC with a start time of 7pm ET and I found that a bit odd.  Southern had noted a few months back that the game had moved to a 3pm ET start.  So when I asked the SWAC's twitter account the time, another interesting tidbit was provided.
For now, I'm expecting NBC or NBCSN to carry the championship round of the Barclays Center Classic event that day.  That day also has English Premier League matches & qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, though those two events would occur, mostly, during the morning hours.  But to read that the SWAC is expecting the game to move to NBCSN would break a run of 24 straight airings on broadcast TV, specifically NBC.

* The Ivy League TV schedule will include six games on NBCSN with five of the six on Friday nights.  Only "The Game" aka Harvard-Yale will be played on a Saturday on NBCSN.

* Credit to American Sports Network, who is taking up a lot of FCS telecasts alongside their largest package from C-USA.  Whether the Big Sky game (Northern Iowa at Cal Poly) is contracted through the conference or just through Cal Poly, I don't know, but for the sake of Cal Poly as the home team, I'm listed it as "Big Sky" for now.

The Ivy League, Big Sky (see above), OVC and Southland are new additions to ASN for football.  The Ivies and OVC had basketball games on ASN during the 2014-15 season.

Also, the Southland count includes five games that will be announced during the course of the season.

Big Sky1
Big South3
Ivy League7
Patriot League2

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ESPN making deals, MW on ROOT/CI & Emerald Coast Classic adds TV

* ESPN has been active outside of the Power 5 football conferences, signing new contracts with the Southern, Southland and Missouri Valley conferences within the past month.  The big events for both the SoCon and Southland are the championship game of the men's basketball tournament and most of the events for those two conferences will be webcasts through ESPN3.  In the case of the SoCon and MVC, the schools will start receiving production equipment from ESPN to start self-producing events for ESPN3.  Over the last two to three years, ESPN has worked with multiple conferences, such as the Atlantic Sun, ACC, MAC and SEC, to take on production of games & events not shown on television.

The semifinals of the MVC men's basketball tournament have been added to ESPN's rights.  Previously these were packaged with the quarterfinals and first round games to be shown on regional TV (ie. FSMidwest, CSN Chicago, etc.).  ESPN already had rights to the men's basketball championship game which has been sublicensed to CBS for about a decade.  For the moment, it is not clear on the status of the sublicense of the game in future years.

EDIT: Per a teleconference announcing the deal, local and regional telecast deals have been preserved.  With respect to who will produce it, on-air talent, etc., I'm not sure.

Also, the existing sublicense of ESPN basketball to CBS ends after the 2015-16 season.

* The Mountain West released its ROOT Sports and Campus Insiders packages.  ESPN also used one of their supplemental picks on Tulsa at New Mexico.  Three games remain without live video at the moment.

Southern Utah at Utah St. (9/3)
New Hampshire at San Jose St. (9/3)
Mississippi Valley St. at New Mexico (9/5, a telecast is expected)

It has already been announced that the North Dakota at Wyoming game will not be televised or webcast.  Two other games, UC Davis at Hawai'i & Hawai'i at Nevada, have not had a TV announcement but other Hawai'i games not selected by CBSSN, ESPN and ROOT Sports have been picked up by Oceanic PPV with a companion webcast available through the MW Network.

* The Emerald Coast Classic semifinals and championship game will air on CBS Sports Network.  Last year CBSSN aired the championship game only.  The semifinals are scheduled for after the conclusion of the Boise St. at San Jose St. game on Black Friday and the championship game will fit in the two hour time slot between the conclusion of BYU at Utah St. and the start of Colorado St. at Fresno St.

I do not know what this means for the airing of the Corpus Christi Challenge which has aired on CBSSN during this timeframe the past couple years.  The Great Alaska Shootout is also during this time of the year and I'm told from a source that they are working to continue their relationship with CBSSN.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Some Mid-July Thoughts on Budgets, C-USA and College Basketball

The nice thing about college sports is that it essentially takes a break from late June to after July 4th.  There wasn't much to write about, at least in the areas I try to stick to covering.  There is one "big picture" item though that I felt was worth touching on.

* As you've probably read in several places, ESPN is making personnel changes outside of their college sports broadcasting departments and have allowed some of the event programming they carry to move on to other entities (NHRA to FOX Sports, Open Championship to NBC, etc.).  You also may have seen that their subscribing household number has dipped as well as cord cutting in pay TV is providing consumers more choice.  Unfortunately, the cost of subscribing to the channel, or the suite of channels, isn't decreasing, but that's another story.

Paying a rights fee isn't just the only cost for a product.  Costs of producing a live event (ie. staffing both on & off air, equipment, transportation, etc.) can be a hidden cost to us that gets defrayed through ad sales & subscriber fees.

I can't say what this means for upcoming negotiations for the Big Ten rights that they currently carry.   Or for a potential bid on English Premier League rights with tender sheets going out recently.  Or any rights coming up for bid over the next two to three years.  Reports are that ESPN is going to make adjustments to future budgets.  What I'm not sure of is how the 2016 & 2017 budgets are structured compared to 2015 before mandating cuts.  My guess is that 2016 and 2017's budgets were not flat compared to 2015, so the context of a cut of $100 million or $250 million isn't necessarily known.  It could be the difference of a 5% increase in spending vs. a 10% increase.

In some ways, with the sports rights market being relatively stable for the next few years, this is a place where ESPN and FOX, who also made some cuts with respect to their news coverage both in the field and in the studio, can reassess priorities and ways to make money.  These aren't charities.  And its also a place where NBC, CBS and others could be more active if the price is right.

* One rights agreement that could be decided soon is Conference USA's.  C-USA's commissioner, Britton Banowsky, has announced he is stepping down to take a role with the College Football Playoff Foundation and I would assume that he has announced this with negotiations for future rights finished, or at least in the hands of lawyers who are finalizing the language.

The best parallel that I can recall for something like this is when the MAC and ESPN finalized a new agreement and announced it on January 28, 2009.  A day later, MAC commissioner Rick Chryst announced that he would resign from the conference at the end of the 2008-09 athletic year.

Conference USA's media days are Tuesday, July 21 & Wednesday, July 22.

* With nearly all start times in the FBS conferences accounted for through the first three weeks of the season (mostly C-USA and Mountain West games are awaiting start times or broadcast outlets), men's basketball scheduling announcements should start to appear later this month and August.  Pairings on a handful of events have been announced or leaked.  Usually the Big 12 is the first conference to have its television schedule released.

If you want to peruse through the basketball listings, here you go.