Sunday, March 13, 2016

Who can carry the Ivy League basketball tourneys & a C-USA non-update

* C-USA's future rights are still a bit of a mystery.  The CUSABBS account noted a column from the Charleston Gazette-Mail's Mitch Vingle saying that FOX Sports did not bid on C-USA football, but it was more of a passing mention compared to Harry Minium's report for the Virginian-Pilot that FOX Sports and CBS Sports Network were going to continue as rightsholders, which was sourced from reps at three C-USA schools.

I don't know if lawyers from C-USA and the aforementioned television partners are finalizing language, or if C-USA is indeed moving on and working with, say, Sinclair's American Sports Network, as a single rightsholder.  C-USA could also be making sure they dot every "i" and cross every "t" since the last time their rights were up for bid a lawsuit was filed, when the FOX Sports deal came out of nowhere after everyone assumed the ESPN deal was being completed.

I looked for media interviews with C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod this week and the only one I found was with Birmingham's WJOX and it, understandably, focused on UAB and nothing was asked about future TV rights.

* The Ivy League has relented and added a four school tournament in both men's and women's basketball starting next season, a Saturday-Sunday event at the Palestra in Philadelphia, and that location is a stroke of genius.  Anyways, I've always held the belief that the conference doesn't need TV money to balance budgets in athletics, though I doubt they'd turn it down either.  So who would televise future Ivy League tournaments?  It's hard to say.  The championship game would on Selection Sunday.  Looking at the existing networks on the comparable date in 2017 using 2016 games, plus the knowledge that the Pac-12 championship will be on ESPN, here's Saturday:

ABC - Evening NBA
ESPN - SEC semis & three P5 MBK championships (ACC, Big 12, Pac-12)
ESPN2 - American semis & five championships (America East, MEAC, MAC, Southland, Big West)
ESPNU - One WBK final (WAC), three MBK finals (WAC, SWAC & Big Sky) & two men's lacrosse games

FOX - NASCAR Xfinity Racing & Big East MBK championship
FS1 - Live NASCAR practices & qualifying, C-USA MBK championship, Formula E Racing, AMA Supercross.
FS2 - Bundesliga & FA Cup.  Most of evening was rerun programming.

NBC - PGA golf & EPL replay (could be live EPL in 2017)
NBCSN - Live Premier League in the morning, auto auctions, Premiership Rugby, cycling & other various taped programming.

CBS - Big Ten semis & MW championship
CBSSN - A-10 MBK semis & two WBK finals (Patriot League & C-USA)

Sunday would be a tad more constricted, but there are options for the final

ABC - IndyCar & afternoon NBA
ESPN - SEC & American championships
ESPN2 - Sun Belt championship
ESPNU - Two WBK finals (Horizon League & NEC)

FOX - NASCAR in mid-afternoon
FS1 - FA Cup & NASCAR pre-race
FS2 - Bundesliga & CONCACAF U-17 3rd place & championship

NBCSN - EPL and auto auctions

CBS - A-10 & Big Ten finals
CBSSN - Southland WBK final & taped/studio programming

If I were to guess, here's some potential options

ABC & ESPN Networks - WBK on ESPN3 with final on ESPN3 or ESPNEWS. Men's semifinals on ESPN3 or ESPNEWS with the final on ESPN2 after the Sun Belt.

FOX Sports - There's a dependency as to whether FOX would continue with C-USA.  FS1 did budget for an Ivy League playoff this season and it would have followed the C-USA final and, presumably, the Formula E race would have aired on FS2.   Two possibilities:

  1. If C-USA sticks around: One MBK semi on FS2, one on FS1. MBK final on FS1 after NASCAR pre-race (2:30pm ET). 
  2. If C-USA is gone: Both MBK semis and the final on FS1. 
WBK could air on FS2, FSGo or remain in the hands of the conference for Ivy League Digital Network.  FSN isn't really an option for the Ivies because several of the schools reside in areas where there isn't a full-time FSN affiliate.  FOX could work to clear games on NESN, CSN New England or CSN Philly but if they wanted to have their games syndicated, ASN could be a better proposition, though there were times that ASN didn't air some Ivy League games live in home markets, such as a couple Columbia games airing delayed.

FOX College Sports has also carried Ivy League football in recent season, but I believe a championship event like this would be out of the question as an exclusive on that suite of channels.

NBCSN, to me, is a real option.  Has an open slate in the middle of the afternoon.  Might be the best option.

CBSSN seems to be out, unless they were to take only a championship game and leave the other games with the conference to do what they want.  C-USA is also a consideration here and maybe CBSSN could take on game on Saturday and Sunday if C-USA moves elsewhere.

What also isn't known here is if a conference would shift their dates to earlier to carve out a spot for the Ivy League, or if there's a dark horse, like Turner Sports, who could bid on something like this.

Your thoughts?


Greg M. said...

As a Southern Miss fan, I am wary of ASN taking over more rights to C-USA sports. They do not have a wide distribution for TV and do not stream many games online so getting to see Conference USA sports is nearly impossible with ASN. However, there are grumblings of Southern Miss going to the AAC so maybe I won't have to worry about it as much as I do now.

Thank you for all the work that you do.

Anonymous said...

ESPN and CBS have too much on their plate to accommodate the Ivy League. Were Fox to use RSNs for an Ivy League tournament, it'd be shut out of Philadelphia and run into a potential roadblock with pro teams elsewhere.

I can see the Ivy League going with NBC for the tournament to air on NBCSN or the Comcast-owned RSNs.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Definite on both counts re: RSNs Chucky. FSN is a non-starter because it would need to find outlets that they don't owns, but CSNs in New England & Philly, plus SNY in NYC could be used in a pinch for a bid by Comcast/NBC.

bigddan11 said...

I wouldn't rule out ASN for the Ivy League semi's and FS1 for the championships. Remember ASN airs Ivy League football & basketball games throughout the regular season, and they currently don't have any games scheduled on that weekend since the C-USA quarters are their last matches. Unless they inherit all the C-USA rights, then ASN is a legit option.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I agree Dan. There could be a split. Particularly where Comcast aired a decent amount of ASN basketball from both A-10 & Ivy League instead of producing it themselves. Your scenario works and they did get the online video in place for the conference championships in the A-10 & C-USA.