Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Some NASCAR on FOX & CFB Scheduling Items, plus C-USA Rights

* FOX and NASCAR adjust a handful of start times for races in 2017, including a few Truck Series races that fall during the college football season.  Most of the adjustments were to start the race 30 minutes earlier, so why is that important?  Well, it many give us a few clues about potential telecast windows for FS1.

One setup item for all of these dates: Typically the green flag is about 20 minutes after the telecast window starts.  I'm also going to use last year's race length of time as a base.
  • Saturday 9/30 - Las Vegas will start at 8pm ET instead of 8:30pm (2016 race time: 1:31).  FS1 has a MLB window at 4pm ET, so this gives them an hour of buffer time in the event of a long running game.  From there, the race window should be about two hours, which should leave time for a Pac-12 window around 10pm ET.  In 2016, FS1 had a UFC event after the race, so it could also be to get to a potential fight card sooner.
  • Saturday 10/28 - Martinsville will start at 1pm ET instead of 1:30pm (2016 race time: 1:25). College football windows could start at 3pm.  This Saturday would fall during the World Series, so FOX may want to start their college football coverage slightly earlier.  Last year they carried a tripleheader as the broadcast network carried an early afternoon game plus baseball.
  • Friday 11/3 - Texas will start at 8pm ET instead of 8:30pm (2016 race time: 1:29). UCLA at Utah is scheduled for this evening and with ESPN tentatively scheduled to carry two American Athletic Conference games on this evening, moving the truck race up makes a ton of sense because it would allow FS1 to carry the Pac-12 game with a local kickoff time of 8pm (10pm ET).
* Conference USA is readying to return to the table with their rightsholders, per the Daily News Journal's Aldo Amato.  The conference has four small rights deals with ESPN (football only), CBS Sports Network, beIN Sports and American Sports Network for total minimums of 37 football games and 36 men's basketball games (all numbers include conference championship events), in addition to events in other sports.

My personal opinion: The deals last year were done relatively late after FOX Sports declined to bid to continue as a TV partner and it affected how the conference made its deals.  beIN isn't as many homes, but by the accounts in the article, they did seem to produce a good viewable product.  CBS Sports Network has stuck by the conference through multiple iterations of membership, even if the commitment with the number of games has decreased over time, though it was a coup to pick up the basketball championship.  I'd stay with those partners.  

The point about ASN being a drop in picture quality compared to beIN I think is valid, and with ASN being a syndication partner, finding a game can be hit & miss and I don't think every C-USA game was streamed by ASN (I remember a couple being provided through online pay-per-view , platform CUSA.TV), though that can be true with FOX Sports Regional Networks too, and as ASN picked up more conferences to show via sublicensing agreements with ESPN, there's been a decrease in exposure with C-USA.  I also can't speak to what the conference is being paid.

I'd personally look to move away from ASN.  Maybe see if ESPN would be willing to take on a few more football games for ESPNEWS and maybe some basketball on ESPNU & ESPNEWS.  The conference could use the extra national exposure on a platform that is easy to find.   If the money isn't there and FOX Sports or NBC Sports are willing to come in, it can't hurt to talk to them as the goal is to get back to income levels before the current batch of deals.

There was talk that schools were working towards becoming ESPN3 content providers and it sounds like Rice and Old Dominion were two of the schools that were able to move towards that goal.  Getting away from CUSA.TV, despite the revenue that could be gained, might be worth it.  Where does Campus Insiders fit in?  I didn't see any issue with keeping them around as they are truly a free platform vs. ESPN3 requiring your ISP to be aligned with them or a pay TV provider, but I would understand if the goal for all schools was ESPN3 and to align all online content in one place.


Morgan Wick said...

"Typically the green flag is about minutes after the telecast window starts" Missing a number there.

C-USA is not going to be able to make as much money as they were under the Fox deal no matter what. Didn't all their best schools at the time of the Fox deal leave for the American?

Serge said...

Saturday 09/30 Matt... ;)

Matt Sarzyniak said...

@Morgan - Correct on the last point re: the schools who left ended up taking a lot of the value out of the conference's rights fee.