Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Arizona Bowl tech experience and some commentary on costs

* I tuned into the Arizona Bowl for five minutes to check on some of the technical aspects of it.  For the most part I've stayed away from watching bowl games, but since this bowl was being presented differently using syndication for TV and digital platforms, I wanted to check it out and the execution of the technical side.  Here's some brief observations that I made using a Chromecast device, my Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone and my Windows laptop:
  • Sinclair's American Sports Network, as the TV partner, provided the base production, graphics, etc.  Campus Insiders provided some ancillary items that were only on the Campus Insiders feed.
  • Campus Insiders, it appears, was only providing the online extras.  They were announced as the original digital partner, but it looks like their infrastructure was bypassed by 120 Sports as they had their branding on the video player at Campus Insiders.  The video feed on the ASN website did not have this branding.
  • 120 Sports uses Baseball Advanced Media's video infrastructure, which is extremely solid, but when using my Chromecast, I could not natively cast it through my laptop where Campus Insiders normal infrastructure (LiveStream) is natively castable.
  • When going to Campus Insiders website on my phone, I clicked on the game and was redirected to the 120 Sports website, which is fine, but a different experience than my laptop.  
  • When casting on the 120 Sports website, which had a video experience that allowed for native Chromecast casting, I had to start the video feed after initializing the casting of the video, otherwise the video did not start at live action, but at the pregame show.
  • For phone app usage, both 120 Sports and the go90 apps had the game.  I can't speak for the experience in the go90 app, but the 120 Sports app does have native casting and seemed to provide the best experience if you did not have a local station carrying the game, which is different than Campus Insiders, who admitted their app is not compatible with Chromecast after they had added the option last March.
To be clear, 120 Sports and Campus Insiders are both part of the Silver Chalice media company, so maybe it was simply a branding exercise with CI being focused on collegiate sports.  Personally, I found it slightly clunky to traverse through multiple websites to get to a video feed on mobile.

* Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal noted that ESPN's starting subscriber count for 2016 will be 91.4 million (my assumption is that this figure comes from Nielsen).  While ESPN and ESPN2 are typically neck and neck in terms of subscriber numbers, I would be interested to see how this affects ESPNU and ESPNEWS.  Are the people who are cutting the cord subscribers of big digital bundles?  Are they subscribing to (mostly) analog packages that often don't have ESPNU or ESPNEWS in them?  I guess what I'm getting at is whether the gap between the number of ESPN and ESPNU subscribers is constant or shrinking.

ESPN, the main channel, is where the subscriber cost is typically stuffed and costs for ESPN2, ESPNU, etc. are usually much lower, maybe as low as five percent of the cost of ESPN.  In some ways, that helps programmers spread the costs of the channel.  It can also help when a channel like FS1 or NBCSN goes to negotiate with a provider and their programming numbers are compared with ESPN2 or ESPNU instead of ESPN, where the cable company may look to negotiate a lower rate.  The website What You Pay For Sports articulates this way better than I can.

For me, it trickles down to that sports package purchase each fall.  I used to purchase it for the extra Pac-12 games and the Big 12 games that I couldn't get on FOX Sports Ohio, later because FSOhio wasn't offered full time in HD on DirecTV.  I won't deny that I probably "carried the water" for DirecTV when I subscribed to them and some of these sports networks.  I've rethought a lot of that.  Not solely because of cost but whether that cost is worth it vs. subscribing to MLB.TV or Netflix, for example.  The cost I used to willingly pay for the ability to see the Pac-12 or Big 12's No. 2 or No. 3 game each week moved to FS1 and I'm now looking at whether paying for one or two C-USA games or the ACC's fifth best game is worth it on U-Verse.

Not to mention paying HD fees on top of that.  I love the clarity of HD and sometimes I grouse over people complaining about graphics being "4:3 safe" but when providers tack on as much as a $10 fee, sometimes for providing a proper aspect ratio, it feels a bit much.  I happened to look at my U-Verse add-ons (HD Premium & Sports) and the after seeing that HD feed of MLB Network was included in HD premium and only the SD feed is standard in the U300 package, and my first thought is "can I cast it from my phone using MLB At Bat since MLBN now has an authenticated stream through the app?" (the answer is yes through casting my phone's screen, not natively through the app) because I'd really like to dump ~$17 a month from my bill for the spring and summer.

And I think many of us are getting to that point.  We're finding alternate means to do things.  We're foregoing the extras, or if you believe that ESPN is with the "basics", we're pushing back there.  In some ways, and I'll gladly admit it if its revisionist on my part, I wish we as consumers fought harder against the SEC Network like we've seem to fought against the Pac-12 Networks, now that we know what we're getting out of each channel (lump BTN in there if you want too).

But while we can push at times, but the networks shoulder some blame too, even if its our insatiable demand for product.  A interesting piece on the Longhorn Nework came out this week and it brought me back to how FOX was originally in the lead for the network through existing relationships at FOX Sports Southwest.  We can say that bidding $15 million per year is a small price (five times what FOX offered) compared to what a conference is offered, but there were other costs that ESPN had to shoulder such as production, staffing, etc.  And these were for events, that for the majority, are secondary or tertiary in nature.  We, along with advertisers, paid the freight.  But did it reset the market for every other school when it came to those events?  Does a LHN at that rate ESPN paid increase the lesser rights at every school?  Is that why we have an SEC Network?  At least with the Big Ten, we know the schools have a skin in the game through equity.  Same with the Pac-12 and the market is, in at least one case, making its choice known.

I can't say.  I really can't.  But I can say that the line items on the bill get more scrutiny each month in my home and sports is now driving that scrutiny.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Random commentary on bowls, TV contracts, etc.

* Have come across a couple responses back at me regarding the TV coverage, or lack of it, for the Arizona Bowl.   But isn't this part of hitting the saturation point for a product?

I'm fully aware that some of you will embrace and watch every bowl, and that you can't get enough of them because its college football.  That's fine, that's your prerogative.  But at the same time, what value do you put on those bowl games, or what value should be put on those games?  If you consider them strictly exhibitions, should we care that a game has went back to the syndication model & having trouble being cleared in some markets, albeit with a free streaming option?  Isn't that the market determining the value of said bowl?  Or if we stamp it with it airing on ESPN or ESPN2 does it increase the value because of its status as the go-to network for nearly every bowl game?

I remarked before that bowl season can be a time that a game that only fans of the competing schools would watch on ESPN3 in week two, yet becomes a game in mid-December that draws a 1.2 rating.  I probably took some liberties on that, but I don't believe its far off because of how there are 50-60+ games a week with probably 15-20 running at the same time, either with the same or staggered start times.

* I don't know the status of C-USA's rights agreement negotiations, but I admit that I'm not beating down the door for info because it doesn't pay to do that anymore.  I still believe that CBS Sports Network may be moving on, or drastically scaling back at least in football, with the sublicensing they've done from ESPN for other conferences' content and how those agreements feel like they would overlap with places where C-USA content resides.

I am curious if C-USA will be broadening its agreement with Sinclair's American Sports Network, maybe even taking on primary rights.  A show labeled "C-USA Spotlight" is now appearing on ASN's schedules starting in January and I assume it is similar to the show ASN produces for the Atlantic 10.  FOX Sports has aired "C-USA Showcase" over the life of its TV contract and it wouldn't be the first time a conference has had a magazine show from two separate rightsholders, with both ESPN and FOX Sports producing Big 12 shows.

ASN is also the TV rightsholder for the previously mentioned Arizona Bowl and C-USA would have provided a school to the bowl had there been enough eligible schools from the conference.  The bowl's digital rightholder, Silver Chalice's Campus Insiders, might make sense to take on C-USA's digital assets from CBS Sports' College Sports Live product, similar to their work with the Mountain West as C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod has been open about the conference trying new distribution methods and a need to increase the conference's profile in men's basketball.

* I am also curious to see who exactly is pushing the Ivy League to add a men's basketball tournament.  FOX Sports has picked up three regular season games from the conference and will air this year's playoff game if it is needed.  Incidentally, its the same number of C-USA controlled regular season games that will air on FS1, though C-USA allows its games to air on other FOX platforms such as their regional networks.

CBS Sports Network aired Ivy League games last year and could have room if they do not keep the C-USA semifinals.  ASN aired the game in 2014 with an ESPN3 simulcast and they are also airing Ivy League basketball again this year.

One item that I wasn't aware of, or just didn't consider, is that the NIT doesn't have to take a representative from the Ivy League in the event there are two schools that are tied for first in the standings.  Suppose this makes sense though as I think other conferences are in the same boat, regardless of whether they use divisions or not, and since the Ivy League uses the playoff instead of head-to-head tiebreakers, they truly only crown an outright champion in the regular season.  By going to a tournament, the conference could potentially claim an NIT automatic bid if the regular season champion loses in a tournament.

I've always believed that the Ivy League schools have leverage with respect to money when it comes to athletics.  In short, they don't need television money to fund athletic programs because they are so self-sufficient as schools with their endowments and a perception that athletics are secondary.  If they decide to move into the realm of a conference tournament, even if its a four team tournament or just between the top two schools (maybe a best of three like the CBI?), maybe they'll reconsider their stance on playing in the FCS playoffs.  Or not.

I'm not sure I want the Ivy League to change though, at least in men's basketball.  I like the fact that conference play, the "14 game tournament", means something and that they haven't, so far, taken the money of a conference tournament or championship game.  If they do, my only hope is that if they decide on a championship is that the Palestra is the place to play it.

* When I go through the listings for men's basketball games on ESPN College Extra, I'm extremely underwhelmed.  Sure, I get that so many conferences have elected to start their own networks that it has left ESPN largely devoid of content to put on the former Game Plan & Full Court packages.  But, at least on the basketball side, the only games that are being placed on the package are games that are being televised either locally or regionally, which is different from the football side where ESPN3 exclusives did end up on College Extra.

I guess no one should complain since they're giving away the package as long as you buy the right tiered package from your TV provider, though if you were expecting a step up and hoping for HD quality, you're not getting it from most providers and might be better off investing in a Roku, Chromecast or Apple TV that can push ESPN3 content directly to your TV screen.

Friday, December 4, 2015

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures

I've written report card-type posts on CFB at the end of the season by conference the last couple years.  To try to provide a few more details on each conference & maybe a bit more context, I've decided to break the posts into conference-specific posts.  I'll handle the independents in a single post as well.

As comparisons are made to 2014, it should be noted that 2014's regular season was played over fifteen weeks (fourteen weeks plus Championship Saturday) where 2015's was contested over fourteen weeks (thirteen weeks plus Championship Saturday).  With that said, ESPN had more telecast windows available on a weekly basis with ABC regularly showing games at 12pm ET both ESPN and ESPN2 showing three to four games per week due to NASCAR moving its 2nd half schedule to NBC Sports.

Big 12
Big Ten
Mountain West
Sun Belt

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Independents

Army, BYU and Notre Dame are the remaining independents in college football.  Army and Notre Dame started new television contracts with their existing television partners and have all of their home games set in advance, where BYU does participate in the in-season television selection process for their home games.

Because there are limits on where these schools can place their games, I'm going list notable items instead about 2015:

* BYU had their first season with two games on BYUtv, though the second game (Fresno St. on 11/21) was simulcast on ESPN3.  BYU's TV contract has some leeway after ESPN meets its minimums of three home games on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, one game on ESPNU and BYUtv carrying a game.  Usually ESPN took on every game after BYUtv reserved their sole game.

* Army signed a new TV deal with CBS Sports Network to continue their partnership.  Staying true to one of the key items within the press release was that each Saturday home game started at 12pm ET, which is the goal of the TV deal.

* The Black Knights once again moved their opener to a Friday night instead of playing during Labor Day Weekend.  They also elected to do this in 2013.

* Notre Dame had their first regularly scheduled "home" game on NBCSN with the Boston College game from Fenway Park.  NBCSN noted that the game provided their highest rated college football game.

* Two games in South Bend were played at night (9/3 vs. Texas, 10/17 vs. USC).  NBC will work with the school to schedule up to three home games at night on a rolling two year basis, which means one game in 2016 should be available to be played under the lights.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Sun Belt

I wish I more to say about the Sun Belt, but I don't.  The conference seems to be getting their appearances on weeknights and mostly at the minimum levels that ESPN requires to show the conference.  It is very dependent on ESPN3 to distribute games.

* One game was selected through the in-season selection process for linear television: NC State at South Alabama on 9/26, airing on ESPNEWS.

* The Charlotte at Georgia St. game on 9/4 was the only pre-selected Friday game.  Due to the use of the Georgia Dome for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff, Georgia St. has had to move their opener two straight years from its originally scheduled date, though both times the games received ESPNU coverage.

* Arkansas St. and South Alabama each had three nationally televised games.

* Four schools either contracted out production or self-produced regional telecasts for at least one game: Appalachian St., Idaho, New Mexico St., Texas St.

* ESPN3 exclusively carried one Sun Belt controlled game vs. a Power Five school: Missouri at Arkansas St. on 9/12.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - SEC

The 2015 season had a pair of minor changes with the SEC's TV contracts. One change was bringing back the sublicensed content from FSN back into ESPN's inventory for use on the SEC Network and ESPN's other national television platforms.

A second change appears to be due to ESPN televising the US Open, where CBS negotiated with ESPN to sublicense two games, though it should be noted that it doesn't appear that CBS was allowed to take the best available games on those Saturdays.  Since the games were sublicensed from ESPN, CBS also did not retain exclusivity over ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU for those two games (Louisville vs. Auburn on 9/5 and Georgia at Vanderbilt on 9/12)

Here's some notable items on the SEC, excluding the conference championship game:

* Alabama made six regular season appearances on CBS, which usually requires CBS to exercise a clause in their contract with the conference to get a sixth game.  It was floated out there that when CBS took the Iron Bowl, it may have been due to LSU vs. South Carolina on 10/10 being allowed to air on ESPN at 3:30pm ET during CBS's telecast window, which is supposed to be exclusive from ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.  I have not been able to confirm that, so for the moment, I'm under the assumption CBS wanted the Iron Bowl and exercised their option.

* Georgia appeared on CBS five times, second only to Alabama, though it should be noted that the two games ESPN sublicensed to CBS (Louisville vs. Auburn & Georgia at Vanderbilt) did not count towards CBS's appearance maximums, meaning Georgia had only four of those games count towards their CBS number.

* South Carolina & Kentucky were the only schools not to appear on CBS, regardless of whether a game was sublicensed from ESPN or not.

* East Division winner Florida made two appearances on CBS.  Overall, the SEC West schools accounted for 22 appearances on the broadcast network, while East schools made just eleven appearances.

* After the Florida vs. Georgia game on 10/31, CBS carried seven games.  Only one of those games, the Black Friday matchup of Missouri and Arkansas selected in May by CBS, involved a school from the Eastern Division.

* It is a bit unfair to compare game counts to 2014 on ESPN due to re-absorbing of the FSN sublicensed games and then sending CBS a couple games.  Here's the breakdown of games by network:

  • ESPN: 21
  • ESPN2: 7
  • ESPNU: 10
  • SEC Network: 49
* 68% of the games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU started at 6pm ET or later (26 of 38).  In an interesting twist, the conference also had the most noon ET starts on ESPN (five), with a six game originally scheduled for 12pm but moved due to flooding in South Carolina (LSU vs. South Carolina on 10/10).

* Arkansas & Ole Miss made the most appearances on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU with seven games for both schools.  LSU, Florida and South Carolina each made six appearances.

* For games on the SEC Network, Kentucky had the most appearances by far with ten games.  Missouri was the runner up with seven appearances, with South Carolina and Vanderbilt each with six games on the network, regardless of whether the game was on the alternate channel or the main feed.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Pac-12

The Pac-12 entered into the fourth year of their rights agreements with ESPN and FOX.  There seemed to be more planning on FOX's part when it came to issues around baseball postseason coverage compared to past years (no game moved to FS2, no worries about a game on FS1), but each week seemed to be a mixed bag when it came who came out with a particular game and complaints continued from coaches with respect to start times and travel, which is due to the nature of their TV deals with mid-afternoon west coast games (east coast primetime), in most cases, requiring exclusivity for a period of time

Here's a report card, excluding the conference championship game:

* Thirteen games aired on broadcast networks, down three from 2014.  FOX's total of ten games remained flat from last season, while the number of games on ABC dropped by 50%.  It should be noted that the conference's location hurts as they are really only available for around 2/3rd of the available windows.

* UCLA made the most appearances on broadcast TV with five games, followed by Utah and USC each appearing four times.  Colorado and Oregon St. were the two schools who did not appear on either broadcast network.

* Utah was the last school to fulfill its Pac-12 Networks requirements.  The Utes game vs. Colorado was required to air on Pac-12 Networks because they had appeared in the two primary packages a total of nine times, which is the maximum.

* Since the Pac-12 is zero-sum for its two primary packages with respect to cable/broadcast splits, the 31 games on pay television was an increase of three over 2014.  Since FOX's count for broadcast TV was flat vs. 2014, the same is true for the pay TV count and ESPN's side accounted for the increase in pay TV games.

* In terms of Saturday selections, there was a fairly even distribution for the schools.  Arizona St. was a popular choice for the primary pay TV networks as their games were selected five times.  For overall games on pay TV on an specific TV partner's networks, Arizona was selected five times for games airing on FS1 and Oregon made five appearances on ESPN Networks, the most for each party.  Stanford made a combined six total appearances, followed by California and USC appearing five times between FS1 and ESPN Networks.

* Here's the breakdown of games by the two primary packages, with the number of Saturday games in parenthesis:
  • FOX: 10 (9)
  • ABC: 3 (3)
  • ESPN: 14 (10)
  • ESPN2: 5 (3)
  • FS1: 12 (9)
* For the first time, ESPNU did not air any Pac-12 games.

* Here's a breakdown of each properties' Saturday start equalized to local start time:

ABC & ESPN Networks
  • Noon-3:29pm: 2
  • 3:30pm-6:59pm: 2
  • 7pm and later: 12
  • Noon-3:29pm: 6
  • 3:30pm-6:59pm: 6
  • 7pm and later: 6
Pac-12 Networks
  • Pre-Noon: 5 (four telecast windows)
  • Noon-3:29pm: 12
  • 3:30-6:59pm: 5 (four telecast windows)
  • 7pm and later: 7

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Mountain West

The Mountain West wasn't prominently involved in the fight for the Group of Five's access bowl slot and it showed with the number of selections that ESPN decided to move over to ESPN3 instead of televise late in the evening.  Conversely, CBS elected before the season to not pick up its option to show the conference's championship game for a third season with ESPN picking it up for 2015 and future seasons, though the conference remains tethered to CBS Sports Network for the rest of the decade.

Some notes on the Mountain West:

* Nine Saturday games were selected to air on ESPN's television outlets through the in-season selection process.  Four games aired on ESPN2 and five on ESPNU.  Overall, this was down two from 2014 when eleven Saturday games aired over ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews.

* Seven games were streamed exclusively through ESPN3, the most the conference has had streamed in the three years they've been back with ESPN.

* Sixteen regular season games aired on ESPN television, excluding the conference championship game.  This is a four game decrease from 2014.
  • ESPN: 1 (-2)
  • ESPN2: 9 (+2)
  • ESPNU: 6 (-1)
  • ESPNEWS: 0 (-3)
* Four games, by decision of the home schools, did not have any live video.  There's been some conjecture that the decision is due to the conference requiring a higher quality webcast for those games than the schools could make available, but I do not know if that was the actual reason.

* CBS Sports Network did not select any extra games after ROOT Sports and Campus Insiders set their schedules, leaving their number for 2015 at one less game (22) than 2014.  It should be noted that neither CBSSN nor ESPN is required to select a game after ROOT and CI select theirs.  ESPN made the only selection of Tulsa at New Mexico, which aired on ESPN3.

* In terms of the range of nationally televised game start times (schools are allowed to pick their own start times for ESPN3 games), equalizing it to the location of the game, here's the breakdown by network for Saturday games:
    • 12pm-3:29pm: 5
    • 3:30pm-6:59pm: 5
    • 7pm and later: 7
  • ESPN2 and ESPNU: 
    • 12pm-3:29pm: 2
    • 7pm and later: 8
* For those keeping track of the bonuses that are earned by Mountain West schools, note that it was tweaked slightly to help out schools in the Western Division who do not play Boise St. every season, unlike Mountain Division schools.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - MAC

The MAC entered 2014 with an expanded ESPN television arrangement, but many fans felt that the contract didn't quite live up to its billing as games on regional television disappeared in favor of ESPN3 streaming.  In 2015, the national and regional exposures increased through sublicensing from ESPN, which is intended to increase in 2016 as well.

Here's the MAC's scorecard.  Please note these counts exclude the conference championship game:

* Six regular season games aired on ESPN2, down two from the eight games that aired on ESPN or ESPN2 in 2014.  Another eight aired on ESPNU, up one from last season.

* Overall, the number of games on ESPN's linear TV channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS) was only down one from 2014 with the networks airing 15 games in 2015.

* Nineteen games were sublicensed by ESPN to regional and national television outlets.  American Sports Network picked up ten games and Buckeye Cable took another three games, both for regional television with ESPN3 distribution outside of the TV footprint.  CBS Sports Network took another six games for national television and will add another six games per season over the next three seasons.

* 44 games aired exclusively on ESPN3, down eleven from 2014.  Sublicensing to television outlets no doubt cut into this count.

* Of the 34 games shown on TV either regionally or nationally, Ohio and Western Michigan each appeared eight times.  Western Michigan made the most national TV appearances with six.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Conference USA

The 2015 season was the final year of all rights agreements pertaining to C-USA football with each agreement concluding at the end of the 2015-16 athletic year.  Very little is known about the future of the conference's rights, but it is known that the conference wants to increase their profile with respect to men's basketball and that they may be willing to try some alternative distribution methods.

Here's how things shook out in 2015:

* The combined fourteen games on FS1 and CBS Sports Network represent the lowest number of games televised by those two networks when compared vs. both 2014 (16) and 2013 (24).  To be fair and provide context, none of these years had the exact same conference members as 2013 had members transitioning out to the American Athletic Conference after the season and 2014 was the final year (for now) of UAB football.

* While this is more of a function of the setup of the C-USA schedule, nine of the fourteen games that aired on FS1 or CBSSN were played on a day other than a Saturday.

* Eight of the fourteen FS1 & CBSSN games were non-conference games.

* FS1 did not pick up any C-USA games through the in-season selection process.  Every one of these games aired on either FSN or FOX College Sports.

* Part of the zero-sum aspect of the C-USA deal with FOX as they have a fixed number of games: FSN carried fourteen games in 2015, up two from 2014.  FS1 carried seven games, down two from 2014.

* The school that was featured the most on FS1 and CBSSN was Western Kentucky, who appeared in four of the fourteen games.  WKU also appeared four times on FSN, sharing the honor for the most FSN appearances with Louisiana Tech, Marshall

* American Sports Network again televised 30 games.  Unfortunately for the second straight year, ASN did not stream these games nationally.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Big Ten

2016 will be the final year of the rights agreements the Big Ten has with ESPN and FOX (championship game only, BTN is a separate longer deal).  With 2015 being the second year of the conference's current configuration, let's drill down and look at where the conference's games landed in 2015.

* 21 games were shown on ABC either full national or via reverse mirror with ESPN2, an increase of one from 2014.  There were no regionally split games that required ESPN3 to see the game when a game was not shown on ABC.  Fourteen of the 21 were full national on ABC, an increase of four from 2014.

* Six of the seven ABC games shown on ESPN2 via reverse mirror started at 3:30pm ET.

* Four conference controlled games aired on ABC in the Saturday Night Football slot, more than any other conference who allows their games to be shown on ABC.  For the Saturday games, seven were 12pm ET starts, nine started at 3:30pm ET and the previously mentioned four at 8pm.

* After Ohio St.'s required two BTN games, every Big Ten controlled Ohio St. game aired on ABC (eight games).  None air on ESPN Networks.  Iowa and Michigan St., the two competing schools in the Big Ten championship, appeared on ABC seven times combined as part of the Big Ten TV package.

* Purdue was the only school not to appear on ABC as part of the Big Ten's TV package.  They only appeared once on ESPN or ESPN2 as well, with their Big Ten controlled games concentrated between BTN, ESPNU and ESPNEWS.

* 37 games were shown on full national on ESPN's pay TV channels, 21 of those aired on ESPN (10) or ESPN2 (11) with the remaining sixteen evenly split between ESPNU and ESPNEWS.  The 21 on ESPN and ESPN2 matched the combined total for those two networks when compared with 2014, while ESPNEWS carried three more games compared to 2014.

* BTN was scheduled to carry forty games as they were in 2014.  One minor difference was that one game had to be produced and moved to the BTN2Go streaming service (Kent St. at Illinois) due a start date change from poor weather.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - American Athletic

The American's second year with ESPN is the first year they will hold a conference championship game.  During the season the conference was able to get exposures on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 through mid-season non-conference scheduling and schools that were regularly ranked in the top 25.

* Four regular season games aired on ABC during the season.  Three were non-conference games and the fourth decided the conference's Western Division on Black Friday, the first intraconference game to air on ABC.  In 2014, the three conference controlled games on ABC were non-conference games.

* Two of the four ABC regular season games were reverse mirrored with Big Ten games (Virginia Tech at East Carolina & Ole Miss at Memphis).

* The conference made its first appearance as the home team on ABC's Saturday Night Football when Temple hosted Notre Dame on 10/31.

* Five Saturday games aired on ESPN or ESPN2, four of which were selected through the in-season selection process.  All four of the in season selections aired on ESPN2.  In '14, two games were selected through the in-season selection process and both of those games aired on the final Saturday of the season where the conference now has a championship game.

* Twelve regular season games were selected to air on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU through the in-season selection process, up from nine in '14.

* The breakdown by network, excluding the conference championship game which will air on ABC:
  • ABC: 4
  • ESPN: 7
  • ESPN2: 8
  • ESPNU: 8
  • ESPNEWS: 14
  • CBS Sports Network: 15+
  • ESPN3: 10
  • Regional TV: 2
+Navy home games on CBS Sports Network are under a separate TV contract for the next few years and are not counted here.

* The dominant start time for Saturday national TV games was 12pm ET with fifteen regular season games starting at that time.

* The number of ESPN3 exclusives decreased by one, down to ten.  No intraconference games aired exclusively on ESPN3 in '15 compared to two late season intraconference webcasts in '14.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - ACC

The ACC is locked in with ESPN for the next decade and its contract has a fair amount of flexibility for the networks with respect to choice of games.  I can't really give you anything else about them to set up the notes.

Here's the ACC.

* The conference had twelve games on ABC, eight of which were full national games and four reverse mirror games. Seven of the twelve were at 3:30pm ET with another three at 12pm ET and two at 8pm. The twelve games on ABC is nearly double the number of games on ABC when compared to 2014 (seven).

* Clemson appeared in six of the twelve ABC games.  After that, Miami (FL) and Florida St. each appeared three times.  Overall, at least one of those three schools appeared in ten of the twelve games on ABC.  The exceptions were Notre Dame at Virginia game on 9/12 and North Carolina at NC State on 11/28.

* All three ACC home games vs. Notre Dame were shown full national on ABC.

* The conference championship game will air on ABC for the fourth straight year in primetime.

* Twelve ACC games were aired on ESPN, which is down by six from 2014 (Eighteen games).  Of those twelve, four were on Saturdays.  The remaining games aired on Thursdays, Fridays or Labor Day.

* Eight games aired on ESPN2, up from six in 2014.  Six of the eight were Saturday telecasts.

* ESPNU aired eight ACC controlled games, which was down from fifteen in 2014.  Also, ESPNEWS aired three games, up one from 2014.

* When grouping together the games on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS (), eleven started around 12pm ET, seven in mid-afternoon (approximately 3:30pm) and four were evening games.

* The number of games provided to Raycom for sublicensing remained constant at 32.  They were distributed at the same rate as 2014 with 15 airing via the ACC Network syndication package and 17 being provided to regional sports networks.

* Five schools played half of their schedule on Raycom-controlled packages: Syracuse, NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia and Boston College.  Of those five, only NC State is bowl eligible.

* Virginia actually played their six ACC Network/RSN games over six straight weeks.  They played Pitt on 10/10 on the ACC Network, then played their next five on the RSN package.

* Florida St. made its first appearance on the ACC Network since 2011 with their game vs. NC State on 11/14/15.  The previous apperaance in the syndication package was 10/8/11 vs. Wake Forest.

2015 CFB TV Facts & Figures - Big 12

I've considered the Big 12's TV deals to be the most flexible and they'll undergo a few minor changes in 2016.
  • The number of games that ESPN will be allowed to select will increase from a maximum of 19 to 23 
    • Commentary: It would not surprise me if Longhorn Network ended up with one or two more games, if the competing schools agree to it.
  • ESPN and FOX will alternate the weekly top selection on a yearly basis, with FOX getting the top selection in even numbered years (2016 being the first) and ESPN getting it in odd numbered years.  Those two networks will then collaborate to determine weekly selection orders. (edited: 2/13/15)
  • ESPN will no longer have to adhere to a limit of six appearances for a school on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2(?, at least ABC & ESPN), so there won't be a need to count the number of times a school appears on those networks.
The reason for the changes is that when the Big 12 changed its rights agreements in 2012, it kept some of the contractual terms in place from the ABC contract that would have expired in 2016.

Here's how the Big 12 looked in 2015.

* There was a slight decrease in the number of games on broadcast television.  ABC carried eight games, down one from 2014, while FOX carried seven games, down one as well.

* Oklahoma (six) and TCU (five) had the most appearances on the two broadcast networks.  

* The distribution of games on broadcast networks slanted towards mid-afternoon & east coast primetime.  Six of the fifteen games started at 7:30pm or 8pm ET and another six started between 3:30pm & 4:45pm (FOX had a couple odd start times).  

* On national pay TV, FS1 carried 22 games (nineteen on Saturdays), ESPN showed six (four on Sat and ESPN2 and ESPNU each showed two.  

* Nine of the nineteen FS1 games were 12pm ET / 11am CT starts.  This falls in line with the conferences available to FS1 as they carried ten total 12pm ET starts.

* Overall, the Big 12 requires 25 games to be full national on broadcast or pay TV, specifically ABC, FOX, ESPN, ESPN2 or FS1.  46 games were shown on those platforms.

* Eight games on FSN were outside of the games returned to the schools to place on institutional packages, some of which ended up on FSN.  The Kansas at Texas game could also be lumped in here due to it being distributed on Longhorn Network and Kansas' Jayhawk Network, but was not the institutionally held game for either school.  Of the nine total games, four featured the Jayhawks.

* Not by coincidence, Kansas was the only Big 12 school who did not appear on either ABC or FOX.  Every game involving Kansas aired on either FS1, FSN, Jayhawk Network or the combined Longhorn Network/Jayhawk Network production.