Thursday, July 7, 2016

Early July 2016 Notes

While we wait on the remainder of early season Sun Belt television assignments, which looks like the possibility of Boise St. at UL-Lafayette on ESPNEWS sometime after 5:30pm ET (maybe 8pm ET?) and the rest on ESPN3 when the get around to announcing it (maybe at their media day next Friday), here's some other interesting stuff to look into:

* Have been told that the San Francisco / Foster Farms Bowl is tentatively set for December 28th. notes the following:
At the end of next week is the Pac-12's media days (July 14-15th), so it makes sense to have the loose ends tied up with respect to one of the bowl games your conference is playing in.  With that said, the Arizona Bowl is still finalizing some television partner information with Campus Insiders remaining the digital partner.

If you're wondering about December 28th with respect to college basketball:
  • It is tentatively the start of the Mountain West's conference play, though the release of the conference schedule notes that some games could be moved to Tuesdays for TV purposes.  That could mean that CBSSN would not be carrying this bowl game unless it were in the afternoon.
  • It could potentially be the start date for Big East play.  If FS1 were to be carrying this bowl game, it also may need to be in the afternoon if Big East play were to start that evening.
* Sidearm Sports took over hosting of a bunch of Division I websites this week.   Sidearm happens to be part of the Learfield Sports family, which is where some of those schools have their marketing rights.  One of the sites that it took over was Conference USA, which has a temporary landing page that notes the launching of C-USA.TV in the fall, though I would be willing to guess that late summer it will be ready.

There was speculation that C-USA would have multiple digital partners and C-USA.TV, assuming it is being hosted by Sidearm, seems to fill the need/desire for a subscription based service, plus discussion around the use of ESPN3 and/or Campus Insiders potentially.  I'll be straight with you: I have no idea about their digital strategy.  Sidearm recently took over the Patriot League's website, with the Campus Insiders' based Patriot League Network prominently embedded on the front page, so there is precedent for Sidearm and Campus Insiders working side by side.  C-USA schools have openly talked about using ESPN3 too, so maybe C-USA.TV is short term whether its a Sidearm or Campus Insiders managed website, and I'm not sure if Campus Insiders is in the picture.  I admit that I thought it was but may be wrong.

There was also this tweet yesterday from a Middle Tennessee beat writer:
Whether the spokesperson from ESPN was speaking from the position of TV networks vs. all platforms, and Aldo's tweet specifies "ESPN platforms" which one could interpret as including ESPN3, hopefully we'll find out soon.

* John Wildhack leaving ESPN to become Syracuse's athletics director was a big deal for those who put it in the frame of "Well, what does this mean for the possibility of an ACC Network?".  My thoughts:

Per his bio at ESPN, he oversaw content acquisition and rights negotiations, so I suspect he has some knowledge of the following:
  • Where ESPN was leaning with respect to the creation of an ACC Network vs. paying an enhanced rights fee for not creating the channel
  • Terms of the sublicense deal with Raycom and if there were any buyout/buyback provisions
    • He may have some basic knowledge of Raycom's sublicensing deals for FOX Sports Net too.
  • Budget & costs required to start up the SEC Network and Longhorn Network
  • Expiration of existing carriage agreements with distributors like DirecTV, Dish, Comcast, etc.
And that's a lot more than the average AD in the ACC probably knows about the rights agreement, especially when some ADs and school presidents get pressed that they have no copy of the TV deal.  I'm willing to wager that Wildhack has solid working knowledge of the deal, maybe second only to ACC commissioner John Swofford since Swofford's concern was one TV deal and Wildhack had a few hundred to look after if you add up everything ESPN has (then again, maybe that's a downside of Wildhack too).

Anyways, if the ACC really needed another ally, or at least someone to level set their expectations regarding a conference network, he's on their side of the table now.

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