Wednesday, January 25, 2017

ACC Schedule Notes & Big Ten Friday Night Game Scheduling

2017 ACC Football Schedule

* The ACC press release did not note the potential television networks for Friday night games Miami at Duke (9/29), Clemson at Syracuse (10/13) and Florida St. at Boston College (10/27), but I would expect them to be ESPN or ESPN2, similar to the three Thursday night games which were noted for ESPN or ESPN2 in the release.  I believe the first two games will be on ESPN and Florida St. at Boston College on ESPN2 as ESPN typically carries the NBA on Fridays starting in late October.

* All three Friday night games above coincide with Fridays where the Big Ten has Friday night games scheduled, with Nebraska at Illinois on 9/29, Northwestern at Maryland on 10/13 and Michigan St. at Northwestern on 10/27.  I don't think that necessarily ties the Big Ten games to FOX Sports as both the ACC and Big Ten could occupy ESPN and ESPN2 on all three nights, though October 27th, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, could be a challenge.  October 13th could be the potential date for ALCS Game 1, so both games on that date could belong to ESPN. October 27th, as mentioned above, has the potential for NBA games on ESPN.  Assuming Florida St. at Boston College on ESPN2 & not ESPNU, that would leave Michigan St. at Northwestern with FOX Sports, more likely FS1 as the MLB calendar notes that the World Series starts on October 24th, making the 27th the date of Game 3, provided a travel day on Thursday & no weather issues.

9/29 and 10/13 also have Pac-12 games scheduled (USC at Washington St & Washington St. at California, respectively), so someone should have a doubleheader or two.  How that will work with 10/13 remains to be seen.

* Miami (FL) at Florida St. & Clemson at Louisville on 9/16?  Would expect both on ABC.  All four schools in the top 25 for ESPN's Way-Too-Early prognostications.  Where they get slotted is anyone's guess as Texas at USC is a big draw that Saturday too.

* Speaking of Miami (FL) vs. Florida St., a mid season date has been the norm, but it has been played in the recent past over Labor Day weekend, so a mid-September date isn't surprising, but it is a bit unique, at least over the past 35 years.

* A location has not been officially set for the '17 ACC football championship game but does need to be finalized soon.  Might be heading back to Orlando for a second year.  When doing a quick Google search, PrimeSport, the ACC's official secondary ticket marketplace, had a lot of text about the game in Orlando, though that text could have been recycled from the 2016 marketing.

Monday, January 16, 2017

More Early CFB '17 Notes and a MBK Tourney Item

* CBS Sports Network picked up its third men's conference championship game with a one-off deal to televise the CAA's championship game, adding to the televising of the C-USA and Patriot League game.  This is the seventh conference championship game inside the CBS family of networks, with the Mountain West, Big Ten, Atlantic 10 and Missouri Valley championships on the broadcast network, the last two via sublicense from ESPN.

The championship game was initially thought to be airing on an ESPN network, but plans apparently have changed.  The press release does not mention if this arrangement is a multi-year deal, nor does it mention the possibility of any regular season games airing on the network next season.

Number of conference championship games in '17
ESPN Networks: 24
CBS & CBS Sports Network: 7
FOX Sports: 1

Note that the Pac-12 championship game moves between ESPN & FOX Sports, with FOX Sports showing it in even numbered years.  ESPN also added the new Ivy League championship this season.

A few early notes for the first week of college football in 2017.

* No, I don't know where or the Big Ten rights deals with ESPN and FOX will be announced.  Apparently FOX did have ads touting their new Big Ten programming during the Foster Farms Bowl and the conference championship game.

* The St. Louis Cardinals' printable schedule notes that their 9/2 game at the San Francisco Giants will air as a non-exclusive national game on FS1 at 4pm ET.  Consider this important because it is one less window for FS1 to carry games from their partner conferences.  It is unknown at the moment if there are other MLB game windows for FOX or FS1 that day, or if UFC will have an event that evening where either network will be carrying matches.   From 2013-2015, Labor Day weekend was a UFC pay per view event weekend where FS1 carried prelim matches, but in 2016 the September pay per view moved to the weekend after Labor Day.

* Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, the Florida vs. Michigan game from AT&T Stadium may be moved to the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend.  ESPN helps to stock the Cowboys Classic event and I would expect this to be for airing on ABC as ESPN would be carrying Sunday Night Baseball.  ABC had a nice rating for the Notre Dame at Texas game in an unopposed window last year.

This helps alleviate a glut of neutral site games that ESPN could end up airing with Florida St. vs. Alabama from Atlanta, BYU vs. LSU from Houston (an ESPN operated event), Louisville vs. Purdue from Indianapolis, West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech from Landover, MD and NC State vs. South Carolina from Charlotte.  

Could any others have a date change? Maybe.  BYU vs. LSU won't be considered for Sunday due to BYU's written policy against Sunday competition.  When Charlotte hosted North Carolina vs. South Carolina, the game was hosted on a Thursday night.  That date change happened a year in advance of the date of the game and, for now, the Charlotte Sports Foundation continues to list the game for Saturday 9/2 as it may not be able to change until the NFL preseason schedule is finalized.  

If NC State-South Carolina remains on a Saturday and is considered a SEC game for TV rights purposes (TV rights will be finalized in February per a request to South Carolina's media relations dept), it may be to CBS's benefit.  CBS has sublicensed SEC games the past two season from ESPN for the first two weeks of the season,   After the Florida St.-Alabama, BYU-LSU and Florida-Michigan games, the SEC schedule is rather weak with the exception of the game in Charlotte.

Could CBS decide to take one of the SEC games off the top?  I suppose they could, but I do not know how it affects other selections later in the season, such as whether CBS would negotiate to have a lesser selection on another Saturday.  I have learned, though following this stuff enough & in other aspects of life, that nothing is ever really set in stone anymore.  Everything is negotiable.

* The last item for today looks at one of the provisions in the Big 12 contract for the possibility of a Labor Day Sunday game.  Three of the last five have had one (all even numbered seasons).  While its probably not recommended to compete with the possibility of Florida-Michigan, maybe Maryland-Texas would be looked at if FOX, for example, wanted a game on FS1 after their motorsports coverage (NASCAR trucks & NHRA) on Sunday or a broadcast network game.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Some Men's Basketball Schedule Items For The Rest of 2016-17 Season

* For Championship Week on ESPN, if you're really into the guide data, this one's for you.  ESPN is following through with programming between game fill for situations where a single channel is airing two consecutive games from a single site.

Here's an example: Big Ten Quarterfinal #1 starts at 12pm ET with a two hour window on ESPN.  In the past, ESPN would provide guide data showing Quarterfinal #2 would start at 2pm and end at 4:30pm, but we know that's not really the start time because there's time between games allowing the schools in the 2nd game a warmup period, usually between 20-30 minutes.  Now ESPN is scheduling 30 minutes of fill time, often College Basketball Live, or flat out scheduling the first game's window at two hours & 30 minutes, with the 2nd game in the example above now starting in guide data at 2:30pm ET.

Is this game changing?  Not really, because games still run over their allotted time slots all the time, whether its overtime or a game with a lot of stoppages.  But this does put ESPN in line with other TV networks like CBS Sports Network, FS1 and NBCSN, who usually schedule telecast windows of two hours & 30 minutes on the first game of back-to-backs when they're at the same site.

Take a look at Week 18 of the 2016-17 season, where most of the conference championship tournaments are occurring, for examples.

Note that this does not affect situations where ESPN could be switching sites.  For example, two conference tournament championships could be scheduled back to back because they don't require fill time in between.

* Heading back to One World Sports (if you don't know what's going on, read up on it here), I was able to confirm from the Ivy League that they have pulled back all of their athletic contests from the network due to uncertainty around its future.

In speaking with the conference, one game (Penn vs. Princeton on 1/7/17) has moved to CSN Philadelphia, while other games will air on ESPN3, though it won't necessarily be a one-for-one swap (ie. games that weren't scheduled for OWS may air on ESPN3 instead of some that were to be on OWS).

The most recent release of Ivy League weekly notes for men's basketball show all former OWS games with the ILDN (Ivy League Digital Network) designation only on page 11, though the individual team schedules on preceding pages continue to list OWS.

* WatchESPN updated their listings for March and a notable item, for now, is that there isn't yet a place for the CAA men's basketball championship (take a look here).  ESPNU now shows both Horizon League semifinal games on 3/6/17, where previously the semifinals were to be split between ESPNEWS and ESPNU.

The CAA maintained they would have a national platform, and the game could end up on ESPNEWS or ESPNU with some shuffling. ESPN is currently scheduled to air the SoCon men's basketball championship & ESPN2 would have the American's women's championship, aka UConn vs. somebody (hey, let's be realistic here).

So if ESPN isn't the outlet, and it may still be because they could be finalizing contractual parameters & ESPN doesn't want to publicly list the game, who could it be, or better yet, what are others carrying that evening:

  • NBCSN: NHL (Dallas vs. Washington, 7:30pm ET)
  • FS1: Big East women's basketball semifinals (4pm & 6:30pm ET) & Big 12 WBK final (9pm)
  • CBSSN: ??? (no college basketball, but could have other programming)
  • ASN: ??? (might need streaming help to clear nationally)
CBSSN could be a place for it, along with CAA basketball in future years.  FS2 has aired one of the Big East women's semifinals in the past, but the 2nd semifinal was scheduled at a time when it conflicted with FS1 carrying the Big 12 women's championship game.

Other platforms like Campus Insiders or ESPN3 could clear the game nationally too.  Regional TV partner Comcast SportsNet could clear it on their Philadelphia & Mid Atlantic channels, but would be using alternate channel locations as both primary stations have pro sports (CSNMA has the Capitals game mentioned above & CSNP has a Sixers game).