Friday, March 10, 2017

Implications of American Sports Network Potentially Ceasing Operations

(Edit: A handful of sources have come forward re: ASN shutting down.  As public confirmation, I'll direct you to Chris Mycoskie of the Southland Conference, who confirms it on his own blog).

First, please read this post over at FTVLive.  Thank you to SportsTVRatings, 506Sports and Jeff Wirth for pointing out the article

A few things come to mind, none of which have any immediate answers, especially since the network has not yet ceased operations.

* ASN had multiple year agreements with many of their college properties.  I don't know if those become null and void or if Campus Insiders would be required to pick up all existing deals or be able to pick and choose what they want.  Also don't know how many of these agreements would be expiring at the end of the current athletic year in June.  By phrasing them as multi-year, you don't always get a good sense of the length outside of the length being at least two athletic years.

Some of these agreements weren't with conferences, but with ESPN to sublicense events from at least three conferences (American, MAC and Sun Belt).  ASN wasn't necessarily known to be paying big, or any, rights fees.

Here's a list of everything ASN carried from Division I college sports.  They also had the NCAA's Division II contract.  Campus Insiders' portfolio includes streamed events from C-USA, Mountain West, Patriot League and WCC.  Today, CI produces a handful of games for their conference partners and much of the live content is self-produced by the schools.

* This news hits FCS football hard.  28 FCS games were distributed regionally/nationally.

* For those conferences where ESPN sublicensed content, does ESPN have to now find alternate linear TV distribution for those games?  The American did have a loose threshold of 80-90% of football & all basketball games being televised, though televised on the basketball side includes ESPN3.

* Both Conference USA, who intends to start negotiations for rights agreements that would end after the 2017-18 athletic year, and Patriot League have rights ties with both ASN and Campus Insiders.

* ASN was a fourth TV partner with the Atlantic 10, but had just as much content in terms of hours as NBCSN and CBSSN.  If CI weren't to take that, and the A-10 was previously with them, would it revert to local broadcasters or back to the conference to continue or expand their Facebook Live experiment?

* Campus Insiders is the online partner for the Arizona Bowl where ASN provided a linear TV production.  If CI is the sole partner, I would be curious if there are questions around the viability of this bowl in the future.

* Several Comcast RSNs, along with independent RSNs like Cox Sports, Altitude and NESN, used live ASN events as filler.  ASN came on at a time where a few of these RSNs had dropped FOX Sports Net backdrop programming, right around the time the Pac-12 started their current rights deal and FSN only carried a year of the conference's events.

* Does Campus Insiders have any desire to produce content for wide distribution through linear television?  They have had a tie-in with Dish Network and provide content to Dish's Sling and Verizon's Go90.  They've also worked extensively to air live events through Twitter.  And would a linear TV requirement keep them from continuing with any of these conferences if CI has no intentions to be involved in that space or in television syndication?  Would CI be willing to act as a content producer & tie in with a network like beIN Sports, who dipped their toes in the water with Conference USA?

I suppose we'll all find out soon enough.


Anonymous said...

SNY carried ASN games from the Atlantic 10, filling the content hole caused by the Big East going to Fox.

bigddan11 said...

It's not an if. I've had multiple sources involved with ASN confirm they are ceasing operations.

I have also been told not all rights will be going to Campus Insiders. Conferences that produced their broadcasts (SoCon, Southland, Big South) will revert back to their conferences. The Ivy League deal is always a 1 year deal, so they won't be affected. MAC, American, and Sun Belt rights revert back to ESPN. The D2 rights revert back to the NCAA. Only rights that they had an exclusive number to (C-USA) will go to C-USA.