Thursday, October 6, 2016

Is ESPN carving out space for CAA men's basketball?

Has the CAA's relationship, on a national level, with NBCSN already ended?  This was to be the final athletic year of a five year with Comcast where games would be shown on NBCSN.  This football season has no such games.  At the conference's media day, the media rights topic came up and commissioner Joe D'Antonio mentioned that the conference wouldn't likely continue with NBCSN (last item here).

I found it interesting that ESPN would be carrying the conference's football media day and seemed like an indicator as to where they might be headed.  Around that time, NBCSN's NHL schedule and one thing that I missed was that NBCSN is scheduled to carry a game on March 6th, the same date as the men's basketball championship game and in a timeslot that would seem to overlap, though its certainly possible that CNBC could end up with the basketball game as they've carried a lot of live sports.  The bold emphasis is mine because the remaining paragraphs are pure speculation using existing known college basketball openings.

There's also the Kentucky vs. Hofstra basketball game that ESPN is airing.  While it is being played at Barclays Center after originally being scheduled for the not-yet-renovated Nassau Coliseum, my thought was that this game was considered a Hofstra "home" game before being moved to Brooklyn due to the game being played on Long Island where Hofstra's campus is located.  To put this in further perspective:

Yeah, a mile away from campus. At least a virtual home game.  ESPN has the rights, but I don't know if they had them from the game being played in Uniondale originally and being classified as a Hofstra "home" game or if it is due to the common management of the Barclays Center & the Nassau Coliseum (Forest City Enterprises).

Coming into basketball season, there might be a few other signs that ESPN is carving out space and could be taking over NBCSN's remaining CAA commitments.  On March 6th, the Horizon League semifinals are scheduled for ESPNEWS at 7pm, then ESPNU at 9:30pm.  My expectation is the Metro Atlantic final will air on ESPN2 at 9pm along the first WCC semifinal.  At 7pm is where there could be some shifting with the SoCon men's championship and the American Athletic Conference's women's championship game scheduled for ESPN and/or ESPN2.  So the CAA's championship game, provided I haven't checked on another conference's women's tournament, could air on ESPNU.

Also on March 5th, the day of the CAA semifinals, Tulsa's basketball game with Tulane is listed for ESPNU or ESPNEWS, which could be for the flexibility of the CAA semifinals.  On ESPNU at 7:30pm ET is the second AAC women's basketball semifinal.  For a few years, the CAA semifinals were scheduled to air on NBCSN at 2:30pm & 5pm, though last year 1pm & 3:30pm were the start times.  If they went back to 2:30pm & 5pm, and assuming there isn't another women's basketball championship or semifinal that I'm missing, the CAA men's semifinals would fit in between the Atlantic 10 women's basketball championship (12pm) & the 2nd AAC semifinal (7:30pm), plus Tulsa at Tulane on ESPNEWS.  Conversely, ESPNEWS could also be used for the semifinals or one semifinal game if there are other programming considerations.

There are a handful of open ESPNU slots on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays that could fit a few CAA games as I'm making the assumption that open Friday slots on ESPNU are for the Metro Atlantic & MAC.  The CAA conference schedule is set up on a Thursday-Saturday rotation and occasionally have had Sunday telecasts when requested by television partners:

Sunday 1/8/17 6pm
Saturday 1/14/17 2-2:30pm
Sunday 1/22/17 12 and/or 4pm (ACC women's basketball game could be at 12pm)
Thurday 1/26/17 7pm or 9pm (one is a Big South game)
Thursday 2/2/17 7pm
Thursday 2/9/17 7pm or 9pm (one is a Big South game)
Saturday 2/18/17 2pm

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