Monday, April 11, 2016

Notre Dame at Texas TV Options

As you may have seen Friday, Notre Dame at Texas has moved from Saturday, September 3rd to Sunday, September 4th with both schools noting it would be a night game.  ESPN's Brett McMurphy, in a tweet sent out on Friday, noted that the game would be on ABC or the ESPN family of networks, but no one else (ESPN PR or the schools) was willing or able to corroborate that.  So which networks could it air on, including FOX or FS1, because they are Big 12 TV partners?

ABC or FOX - Assuming it stays in the Disney family and I don't have any reason right now to completely doubt that, ABC seems to be the most logical place.  In most years, the fall TV schedule appears after Labor Day and its an event that would seem to draw well for ABC.  Same goes for FOX, especially if they elect to bow out of airing any sports on 9/3 as FS1 will have two MLB games that day.

FS1 - Reasonable chance if McMurphy was wrong about being on a Disney network.  FS1 is scheduled to air NHRA qualifying from the US Nationals from 5-7pm ET.  MLS is off on 9/4 with games pushed to mid-week, so they should be free in the evening.

ESPN or ESPN2 - Nearly zero without some shuffling.  ESPN is expected to have an MLB game on Sunday and ESPN2 should have US Open tennis, based on last year's schedule and assuming they don't sell off a portion of the rights to another entity, as they have until last year's event and tried to last year, with no success.

ESPNU or ESPNEWS - ESPNU carried a high school football game last year on Sunday, but it ended in the early evening.  Otherwise, I think it be a waste of moving the game to air it on one of those two networks.  I doubt both Texas & Notre Dame athletic departments agreed to move the game to Sunday to have it end up on one of these networks.  I'm also unsure if ESPNEWS can air Big 12 games going into this season since 2016 is the first season of some minor parameter changes to the Big 12 football TV deals.  ESPNEWS wasn't listed in this press release from 2012, but as I've had to adjust to, press releases don't always tell the whole story.

Longhorn Network - I'd give it a reasonable chance of airing the game if it wasn't Notre Dame and they didn't have to agree to move the game too.  LHN has been an asset of Disney's that been kicked around for being a financial drain and the 800lb gorilla of the Big 12, but this would be a way to get some mileage out of that asset.  I'm also not sure that you would have anything else compelling on LHN at that time.  As much as I bet they would love to pop a huge number on the board for the network, they also have to be realistic about getting eyeballs to this game.  A LHN game that gets 2 million households is nice.  A game on ESPN that draws 3-4 million is better.

So how could LHN get access to the game?  Remember that FOX Sports is the one that selects your institutionally held game and if you don't use it, FOX Sports gets the game back.  I would be willing to guess that the UTEP game on 9/10 is the game FOX has permitted LHN to air.  From there, the Big 12, per a correspondence I had with them, has their TV partners "draft" when they'll pick 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc each week.  At least that's what they told me.  From there they select games for the early season & twelve day selection process starting with week four.

If ESPN was able to get access to the top choice for week one, they could have worked with both schools on the move OR worked behind the scenes before submitting the date they wanted a top choice.  If there's no place to air the game, and neither Texas nor ND could be convinced to move the game date, there's little sense to intending to draft the top game choice for a particular week.  The same goes for later in the year when FOX's MLB playoff commitments are fluid.  Either way, I don't know if there is a stipulation that the top choice in a given week has to air on either a broadcast network (ABC or FOX) or one of the primary cable platforms (ESPN, ESPN2 or FS1).

FSN, FOX College Sports or FS2 - Trying to cover all the bases since someone will point these three out as options.  To me, they fall under the same category as ESPNU or ESPNEWS, with less national viewers for FOX College Sports & FS2 compared to the two Disney networks, and FSN not really a "national" option without finding a way to strike agreements with other non-FSN affiliated regional sports networks.

FOX Sports Go or ESPN3 exclusive - Nope.  Don't think either one has the ability to air Big 12 football exclusively online at this time, at least not without extenuating circumstances.


Darrell McKown said...

My guess is ABC with some type of simulcast on the Longhorn Network like ESPN did with the Texas-Ole Miss game a few years ago and the Auburn-Alabama game on the SEC Network in 2014.

I can't imagine that FOX, if they have the game, would have moved it from Saturday given that, best I can tell, the two most compelling games that they may have the rights to on opening weekend are BYU vs. Arizona and Rutgers at Washington. Seems like Texas-Notre Dame would have been in prime time Saturday night on FOX, unless for some reason they were afraid to complete with Alabama-USC on ABC and whatever games airs on ESPN.

And if that's the case, we can write-off any ability to guess at the allocation of Big 12 games this year between FOX Sports and ESPN.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I think what you've written re: FOX, specifically not competing with Alabama-USC & potentially one of either LSU-Wisconsin, Oklahoma-Houston, North Carolina-Georgia, Clemson-Auburn or UCLA-Texas A&M, is actually a good reason to move it to Sunday on their side. Like I mentioned, they might cede the whole day to ABC & ESPN. I'm also unsure whether FS1 has to air any of the practice or qualifying rounds from the NASCAR trucks series from Bomansville, ONT or if those are OK airing on FS2 on Saturday 9/5. Last year qualifying did air on FS2, but the practice sessions were on FS1 in the early afternoon, but to be clear, the race last year didn't run the same weekend as the opening weekend of CFB.

Its also possible that FOX's option to both Texas & Notre Dame was to run the game in the afternoon to avoid USC-Alabama and both FOX & the schools sought an alternate date/time, and Sunday was it.

Sean OLeary said...

If McMurphy's tweet was incorrect, they would have had him take it down. Guessing the hold up is if ESPN is trying to unload the weekend US Open coverage.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I agree Sean, but I swear he "reported" Tim Brando coming to SEC Network, it stayed up, & Tim went to Fox. My memory really sucks these days though and I could be wrong.