Monday, June 19, 2017

The Group of Five Conferences, TV Rights & Their Convergence in 2019-20

There could be a large amount of college sports to renegotiate with the rights agreements for three of the Group of Five conferences (the American, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt) plus Army football expiring after the 2019-20 athletic year.   Its a lot of inventory to potentially hit the open market, or at least the negotiating table, all at the same time in both football and men's basketball, presumably in late 2018 or early 2019.

Before that, C-USA will be negotiating new rights agreements starting this year for deals expiring from ESPN, CBS Sports Network and STADIUM after 2017-18, while their agreement with beIN Sports runs for an additional year to 2018-19.  BYU's agreement with ESPN for football will expire after the 2018 season and they should be working through exclusive negotiations in the near future.  The WCC, where BYU competes in most other sports, has its contract with ESPN expire after 2018-19 as well.

(The MAC, if you're wondering, starts the ten year extension they signed on their previous TV deal during the 2017-18 athletic year)

EDIT: BYU's contract has an option year for 2019 that can be exercised by ESPN, so they could be included in this group of conferences.  Per AD Tom Holmoe, they'll be talking with ESPN soon per an interview from March.

These conferences plus Army all hit the market at roughly the same time with sports broadcasting at a bit of a crossroads.  Yes, the Big Ten got paid, but in the process ESPN laid off a bunch of on-camera personnel and are looking to retool key parts of their programming.  Digital-centric broadcaster STADIUM is entering the market this summer.  The American believes that there is a Power 6 that they are a part of and the Mountain West has been unhappy with how often their football games end up as evening games which has contributed to a decline in season ticket bases for at least one Mountain West school.

The movement of about 25 Big Ten games to FOX Sports plus the creation of the ACC Network, whether it happens using existing channel space like ESPNEWS or a completely new outlet similar to how the SEC Network started up, should provide some open space on Saturdays for a few more games from these conferences, probably on ESPN2 and ESPNU, but a better judge of that would be once we see how many telecast windows ESPN ends up using across their networks during the 2017 season.

Where the Group of Five conferences do hold value to ESPN is on Thursday & Friday nights, especially when games are scheduled vs. Power 5 schools or for a school that is expected to compete for the Group of Five spot within the New Years Six.  For the 2017 football season, they have at least one game air on ESPN or ESPN2 for 13 of 23 through mid-November. I excluded Thanksgiving & Black Friday, more because Black Friday has a lot of TV windows, but even that day you'll find two American Athletic & one Mountain West game for their TV partners in 2017 with the two American games to air on ABC or ESPN.

Eyeballing the table at Sports Media Watch for the 2016 season, most of the non-Power 5 Friday games had 500K-600K average viewers where the Thursday night games typically drew above a million viewers, though Houston as a potential New Years Six representative for the Group of Five helped drive some of those numbers.  Yes, the Thursday night games go against the NFL and the Friday games shift to ESPN2 once the NBA is in season.

CBS Sports Network, on the other side of the equation, is dependent on the Group of Five conferences and, right now, ESPN provides them some of that content with their MAC and American live events coming to CBSSN through sublicenses.  That handcuffs them a bit, because that content could go away if ESPN opts not to sublicense to them or the American were to move on from ESPN and doesn't have CBSSN as a direct rightsholder.  CBSSN will lose Navy as a direct partner next season as their football rights are to return to ESPN after this season.   Some of the Mountain West's anger regarding evening start times extends to CBSSN as well.  All of this leaves CBSSN with a lot of grey area with respect to how much programming space they truly have to offer a conference if they want to be the primary rightsholder for any of these conferences.

My early gut feeling is that ESPN will try to engage with each of these conferences they have rights for to try to retain them, potentially earlier than their exclusive negotiating window to try to take advantage of an uncertain marketplace as we truly don't have a great idea what major digital companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc. will pay for college football and, to be honest, college football that is not from one of the conferences that draws a lot of viewers on Saturdays.   They'll work to provide an increase in rights without overbidding for programming that, right now, costs a lot less to own the rights for.  Maybe hoping the conference will take a discount in return for a longer agreement.

As for Army, I feel would stay with CBS Sports Network,  A hunch, nothing more.  Army wasn't really thrilled with games on ESPN3 a few years back and both Army and Navy have extended their agreement with CBS to carry the Army-Navy game well into the next decade.

Where I do think these conferences have some wiggle room, potentially, is the pattern several TV agreements have moved towards: caps on the number of games a TV partner can carry with special provisions, such as the Mountain West, Pac-12 and Big Ten granting a maximum number of games to each primary rightsholder or C-USA signing their various agreements, though C-USA's agreements were more out of necessity and not necessarily by design.  For example, I can envision scenarios where a rightsholder doesn't increase the dollar amount of their rights fee to one of these conferences or provides a smaller increase, but instead relinquishes their status as the exclusive rightsholder in exchange for terms that are more favorable (ie. taking 10-15 games, maybe nearly all Thursday & Friday games in football or games on a specific night of the week in basketball).  If the conference can then swing it where they still have good inventory for a second or third rightsholder to buy in, then it could remain lucrative for them, especially if they want to test the digital waters for themselves.

So what do you see happening in three years?  Shorter or longer agreements? More or less use of linear television in these agreements?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Notes: Holiday Bowl, Cayman Islands Classic & Men's Basketball Scheduling Considerations

* The Holiday Bowl has changed TV partners, moving from ESPN to FOX Sports with FS1 televising the upcoming matchup on December 28th.  In regards to why FS1 over FOX broadcast network where the Foster Farms Bowl airs, I can't give you a good reason if you are solely looking at the stature of the two bowl games.  The Foster Farms Bowl is behind the Holiday Bowl in the Pac-12's selection order, while the Big Ten is more proactive about placing schools at bowls to avoid recent reappearances at bowl games, even if it is to be believed that the Holiday is placed in a tier above the Foster Farms Bowl.

Either way, I suspect the date chosen for the Holiday Bowl was planned around the start of men's basketball conference play for the Pac-12 and Big East.  For the Pac-12, conference play is expected to start on 12/27 & 12/28, so if FS1 has interest in any games over those two days, they could be targeting 12/27.  Big East openers could be spread over the evening of Friday the 29th (Cotton Bowl at night) & afternoon of Saturday the 30th with the Fiesta & Orange Bowl games starting at 4pm ET, and FS2 or FSN could pick up a game or two if needed.  CBS Sports Network could also take a Big East game through their sublicense with FOX Sports too.

As for the Big Ten, they appear to be playing non-conference basketball during much of the week between Christmas & New Years based on non-conference games scheduled for Wisconsin, Purdue, and likely Ohio St. but that doesn't mean FS1 couldn't try to take one if they can fit one in.

* I exchanged tweets a few weeks back with Joe Wright, the CEO of the Cayman Islands Classic requesting information about television rights for the tournament being played November 20-22 and released its bracket yesterday.  Joe replied back that the information would be announced in eight weeks, which would peg the announcement to mid-July.  So where could it air?

  • ESPN's group of networks - This one feels less likely without using ESPN3 and ESPNEWS.  ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are expected have basketball from the Maui Invitational, CBE Classic, Battle 4 Atlantis and Legends Classic, coupled with Monday Night Football, the possibility of the NBA on Wednesday and one MAC football game for ESPNU on Tuesday.  The Men Who Speak Up Main Event has also had its championship game carried over this time frame in previous seasons too but the championship game has typically been at a time that would not interfere here.  
  • FOX Sports' group of networks - A large portion of the Big East's non-conference schedule is unknown, so I can't say that the schedule is open for their networks.  Right now, I spot two non-conference games over those three days.  EDIT: Per the comment at the bottom of the post, UEFA Champions League has a matchday scheduled for the US afternoon of 11/21 & 11/22, so there may be a conflict.
  • NBCSN - With the NHL schedule not yet released, along with NBCSN's telecast schedule, I can't give you a yes/no answer on that one.
  • CBS Sports Network - They should be tied up with final day of the Paradise Jam on Monday and the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They could certainly be involved in the afternoon portions each day.
  • STADIUM - Same as NBCSN.  No real idea what programming they could have planned for those dates.
  • AXS.TV - I threw them in here because they are partial rightsholders for the Battle 4 Atlantis.
  • The field - Turner Sports? beIN Sports? Paid streaming of the event by a 3rd party?
The interesting part about the scheduling of the event is the semifinal games being split apart with one at 2:30pm ET and the other at 7:30pm.  From that point of view, if ESPN were the TV partner, maybe they figure out a way to use ESPN for Maui or the Cayman Islands in the afternoon as ESPN wasn't used on these dates, though it is the middle of NFL season where ESPN produces a lot of NFL studio programming.

Either way, it will be interesting to see where this event gets slotted in.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Notes on STADIUM, ROOT Sports Rebranding & Bowl Schedule Updates

* I didn't catch something, or catch onto something that was brought up to me as a point of clarification about STADIUM, but its an important distinction to take note of as it was something that was mentioned in the Mountain West's release of their initial 2017-18 men's intraconference basketball schedule:
Regional partner AT&T Sports Net/ROOT Sports and the Mountain West Network on STADIUM will begin their picks after the national television lineup has been announced.
I'll get to the AT&T Sports Net part in the next section, but the part about Mountain West Network on STADIUM is what I'm calling out as it wasn't clear to me, or went right over my head, that the Campus Insiders brand is going away, along with the 120 Sports name.  It doesn't mean that much in terms of actually watching the games, but I think I'll have to be more clear about STADIUM the 24/7 single feed platform & STADIUM as the back end video provider for the Mountain West, Patriot League and WCC for live events. Maybe the STADIUM folks, conference and schools will be doing the same.  I think what I'll need to do for those events is go by the brand names those conferences use (MW Network, Patriot League Network, TheW.TV).

* Three of the four ROOT Sports regional sports networks will be rebranding to AT&T SportsNet in July.  ROOT Sports Northwest, which is not rebranding as it is majority owned by the Seattle Mariners, will retain a loose affiliation it appears as they'll continue to carry Big Sky and Mountain West sports.  I assume they'll continue be involved in the WCC's Game of The Week men's basketball package as well.

* Two of the three bowl games on December 26th have had their start times set with the Quick Lane Bowl at 5:15pm ET and the Cactus Bowl following at 9pm ET.  The Heart of Dallas Bowl could slot into a 1:30pm ET start with all three scheduled to air on ESPN.

So, where does this leave the Holiday Bowl?  Good question.  Based on those start times, I don't think it would be on ESPN on 12/26, which may have been the date left open by ESPN if they were to come to an agreement to televise the game as a post Christmas bowl.

The other date & time open on ESPN, potentially, is December 23rd at 10:30pm ET following the Dollar General Bowl.  Holiday Bowl executive director Mark Neville indicated they would like a post Christmas date, but did not rule out a pre-Christmas date.  It would be the only bowl game involving two Power 5 conference with primary tie-ins played before Christmas.

I would not rule out the possibility of the Holiday Bowl on ESPN2 as the Independence, Gator and Outback have aired on The Deuce in prior years so that ESPN could get multiple New Years Day bowls on the air at about the same time, or air a bowl game on a Monday without cutting into Monday Night Football pregame.  Bowl games on ESPN2 usually happen 1-2 times a year, so its not worth dismissing the possibility.  Could happen with the Heart of Dallas Bowl too if they wanted to run the game back to back with the Holdiay Bowl.  The Heart of Dallas Bowl originally started out as a New Years Day bowl game on ESPNU until ESPN bought the game a few years back.

Outside of ESPN televised bowl games, the Foster Farms Bowl had its date & start time set too.

Friday, June 9, 2017

More CFB TV Odds & Ends

I probably did give the short end of the stick to ESPN and CBS Sports Network by not giving their selections their own notes post.  Here's a few additional items on them you might find interesting.

* I was a bit surprised that ESPN didn't pick up California at North Carolina, but upon closer inspection, maybe we shouldn't be.  I don't know the order of events on how selections were made, but when you see that Bowling Green at Michigan St. is on ESPNU, I guess a conclusion that could be drawn is that it was the last selection for either ESPN or FOX Sports on the opening weekend.  Add that Troy at Boise St. being played at 3:45pm, maybe a concession to the concern about so many evening start times in the Mountain West, it left very little room for the game on ESPN's channels.

Akron at Penn St. might be the one game you would point to & ask "That one over a game with two Power 5 schools"?  My assumption there is Penn St.'s position in several early top 25 predictions played a role.  Might be more interest in the Nittany Lions too nationally compared to the Bears & the Heels.

Also, to be clear about this, to my knowledge ESPN does not set Raycom Sports' telecast time for the ACC Network and apparently it can vary from week to week, with their window on 9/9 at 7pm ET.   I realize that it isn't ideal for Pac-12 schools to travel east & get set for a noon game, but with this one not on ESPN, I don't think they had much sway on the start time.

And regarding the 7pm start time for ULM at Florida St. on Raycom's ACC Network over-the-air syndication package, it is my understanding that Florida St. has made requests for no early afternoon starts in September going forward, similar to how the Pac-12 Arizona schools strongly prefer night games during September.  The key goal being staying out of the heat.

* I realize some of the releases from 2013 for Florida vs. Michigan indicated the game would be a primetime game and at one point, the game was targeted for a move to Sunday, September 3rd, presumably to meet that primetime goal.  My suspicion is that once the two schools decided to stay on Saturday, a decision had to be made about whether to play the game with some overlap with Alabama vs. Florida St., maybe on ESPN in the evening.  From the final result, the decision was made to play the Cowboys Classic in the afternoon and have (roughly) back-to-back high profile neutral site games on ABC.

* Found it slightly amusing to see Colorado St. move up the start time of their opener vs. Oregon St. by 30 minutes to 2:30pm ET / 12:30pm MT, touting that it was so it could be the first FBS game played "according to current schedules".  Portland St. at BYU was set for the same original start time (3pm ET) before the start time change.

The "according to current schedules" part is amusing because Hawai'i at Massachusetts does not yet have a start time, nor a known TV partner, but could conceivably be the first game started.   Unless CBS Sports Network has something planned for approximately 90 minutes of fill time between the end of this game & USF at San Jose St. that truly needs 90 minutes, the move could be pointless unless an agreement has been reached to start UMass's game after CSU's.

* As we are awaiting start for a fair portion of SEC games being played in the first three weeks, I did find it odd that the start times for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU games were released, but only by ESPN and the schools themselves.  I can't find anything on the conference website regarding a release for these games and their start times.

So where are the SEC Network games?  "Coming soon" is the best answer I can give, or more precisely the answer I've been given when asked.  Maybe ESPN is crafting a schedule with the schools, or maybe its ready and we're waiting for...something (College World Series to complete?).

* With the BTN early season schedule announced, all Big Ten schools have a home night game scheduled except for Iowa, Maryland and Michigan.  From Scott Dochterman, the Big Ten schools will now have the potential for night games to be set during the season, but cannot be flexed into the evening on a six day hold.  Maybe it is possible for a six day hold to occur where a game is scheduled for 7:30pm ET or 8pm ET with the only remaining item to be set is the TV outlet.

* 38 C-USA controlled games remain without a planned TV or streaming media partner.  Many of those could end up with CUSA.TV.  Last year, Campus Insiders carried six games online exclusively, but with STADIUM coming into play combining both ASN and Campus Insiders, I'm unsure if there will be STADIUM online exclusives that will be separate from those being shown on the 24/7 feed.

It was mentioned in the C-USA TV release that ESPN3 would be adding games and schools like Old Dominion, Charlotte and Rice were working towards being able to self produce ESPN3 content, so we may see the use of school productions for ESPN3 pick up the slack.

* Looking over the CBS Sports Network schedule openings,  I gather that the openings for the AAC & MAC are the following:

9/23: 12pm MAC or AAC
9/30: 12pm MAC or AAC
10/7: 12pm & 7pm MAC or AAC
10/14: 3:30pm & 7pm MAC or AAC
10/21: 7pm MAC or AAC
10/28: 11:30am & 6:30pm MAC & AAC
11/4: 12pm AAC
11/11: 7pm AAC
11/18: 12pm AAC
11/25: 12pm AAC

The MAC has nine scheduled telecast windows so far on CBSSN, so my belief is they will have windows on the three dates with two open telecast windows (10/7, 10/14, 10/28).  That would leave the AAC, excluding the Navy home games that are under a separate television agreement, with 14 sublicensed windows from ESPN which is in line with the agreement the two television entities have.

In case you're wonder why the Boston College-Connecticut game at Fenway Park is on CBSSN, the game was originally a UConn home game and remains as such with the venue change.

* With the American at 14 selections on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, they'll need 14 in-season selections for those same networks to hit what appears to be a minimum of 28 games on those four channels.  With 73 conference controlled games available to ESPN as a rightsholder (five other games are part of Navy's TV rights), the end of season breakdown should look something like this, assuming the 28 game minimum is realized:

  • ESPNEWS & CBS Sports Network: 30-38
    • 13-15 of those games on CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN3 & local/regional TV: 7-15 (10-20% of games)
    • 13 already set for ESPN3 or local/regional TV

Friday, June 2, 2017

Additional Look at FOX College Football Schedule Release

Since FOX sends out a release that details out the when and where of their entire college football schedule, which usually has a few alterations when needed, it does allow for the entire schedule to get a look at.  Unfortunately, ESPN has not published a giant release with all their openings throughout the year in a few years, and frankly with the amount of games and channel space they have to fill and are solely devoted to college football most Saturdays, trying to do any "analysis" is a bit moot compared to FOX Sports where the number of games are more fixed and there are other events to work around, such as NASCAR, UFC and MLB postseason.

Here we go...

* Using the release, I do have a bit of a math discrepancy that I'm trying to resolve as I count one more telecast window than they have games available to televise.

With 64 regular season Big 12 games and not counting the conference championship game, after removing 33 games (ESPN's maximum 23 & 10 member retained games, including Tulsa at Oklahoma St.), FOX Sports should have 31 Big 12 games.  When that gets added to 25 Big Ten and 22 Pac-12 games, the total number of telecast windows for these three conferences should be 78 games.

After counting up telecast windows on FOX Sports outlets, removing the Big 12 member retained games on FSN and FS1 and conference championship games, I come up with 79 telecast windows:
  • 31 on FOX
  • 39 on FS1
    • 9 weeknight & Black Friday games, once again excluding Tulsa-Oklahoma St.
    • 30 on Saturday
  • 7 on FSN
    • Excluding these Big 12 member retained games: Eastern Washington at Texas Tech, UTSA at Baylor & Jackson St. at TCU
  • 1 on FS2
  • 1 on either FS1 or FS2
Maybe one of the FSN telecasts or the "swing" FS1/FS2 window disappears, or the ESPN Big 12 game count won't hit the maximum of 23 games, pushing another game into FOX Sports's Big 12 package.

* After the Big Ten released the start times for their homecoming games, I tried to match up which games FOX Sports couldn't carry based on the released start times for their college football schedule.  Each should be available for ESPN's platforms and BTN.
  • Both 9/23 games would only be available for FOX broadcast network with FS1's windows currently at 3pm, unless these games could be moved up 30 miuntes.  Currently, their start times are 3:30pm or 4pm ET.
  • Michigan at Indiana on 10/14 is only available to FS1 due to FOX clearing out their schedule that day for what appears to be the ALCS.  At that hour, the conflicting programming on FOX is a NASCAR Truck Series race.
  • On 10/28, since FOX has only three windows across the broadcast network & FS1 and Penn St. at Ohio St. is already scheduled for FOX at 3:30pm ET, it is highly possible that neither Rutgers at Maryland, Wisconsin at Illinois or Indiana at Maryland air on FOX or FS1
    • The first two are 12pm ET starts.  FOX is not scheduled to carry a game at that time and FS1's first window does not start until 3pm due to a NASCAR Truck Series race.
    • Similar to the 9/23 games, unless Rutgers at Maryland can move up to 3pm, it will not be available to FS1.  
* With three scheduled Big 12 controlled FS1 games to start the year, including Tulsa at Oklahoma St. which does count toward meeting FS1's Big 12 minimums, three more Big 12 games have to appear on FS1 during the course of the season.  Similarly, with two FOX broadcast network games scheduled, four more will need to air on FOX.  

Bedlam (Oklahoma at Oklahoma St.) will fall into one of the two categories once it is slotted.

* With four Pac-12 games on FOX, they've already scheduled half of their required games for the season.  Three of those four are primetime games too, so they only need one more primetime game out of the minimum four remaining to be scheduled.

* Overall, 16 of FOX Sports's 22 Pac-12 telecast windows are accounted for and there's something to be deduced from that.
  • Four already scheduled for the broadcast network
  • Six FS1 selections used on weeknights, special dates and early season Saturdays
  • Per FOX's schedule release, six Saturday FS1 in-season selections to start between 10pm & 11pm ET
With FOX required to air at least four more games on the broadcast network, there are two remaining windows that are "wildcards" and can air on either network at any time.

* One item I picked up on was that some portion of the Las Vegas Invitational, scheduled to air on FS1 on November 23th & 24th appears to be headed to either FS2 or FSN.  With FS1 scheduled to carry football games on Friday the 24th with telecast windows at 12pm, 4pm and 10:30pm ET, it appears that the event will have a window at 8pm, but the 10:30pm game would be on another outlet.  What could occur is FOX prioritize the championship game on Friday for FS1 & move the 3rd place game on either FS2 or FSN.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Notes From An Avalanche of Kickoff Time Announcements

3pm ET hit Wednesday and it was kinda like a perpetual Ice Bucket Challenge that you didn't have control of the buckets, nor passing off the challenge to someone else.  Here's a few of the items that I and others took notice of, along with the CBS release from the day before.

Here's the opening three weeks if you'd like to immerse yourself there to start

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Tulsa at Oklahoma St. was a member retained game & can air on FS1? In my opinion, this may come down to the combination of the Cowboys' schedule, as the Tulsa game is their only home non-conference game, and a desire by FOX, who makes the choices on the member retained games in the Big 12, to not choose an intraconference game.  I suppose the game could have aired on FSN but there are a handful of MLB games that evening, including a Rangers game and FOX Sports Southwest / Oklahoma would be the primary outlet for this game.

It is my understanding that since it is airing on FS1, it can be counted towards the minimum of six Big 12 games on a national cable network even though it is a member retained game.  A unique situation.

Did I read correctly that the Pac-12 Championship will be on a Friday on ABC or ESPN?  That's how I read the schedule and press release too.  The game was missing from ESPN's release for some reason, but the conference made it known as part of theirs.  Meanwhile, the MAC title game has now moved to Saturday.

Any idea why the Big 12 title game doesn't have a date set yet? It could be coming as part of spring meetings or at the Big 12 media days in July, but the conference may have its championship game on a Friday, which I guess would line up with the Pac-12 as those two games rotate TV partners each season between FOX and ESPN.

They really chose Portland St. at BYU to air on ESPN? Yep.  Their call, but when you add that game to the Wisconsin game on either ABC or ESPN and the Boise St. game on ESPN, they've met their three game minimum of BYU home games on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.  This frees up either of the Utah & San Jose St. games to air on ESPNU, which is another requirement of their agreement.

Also, BYUtv took the UMass game, so that requirement has been fulfilled.

And FOX really chose Montana St. at Washington St. for FS1? I guess, but they probably got in on Texas A&M at UCLA as the top choice and with ESPN not taking a Pac-12 game the opening week, FOX was probably committed to taking a Pac-12 game & it ended up being that one on the back end.

Fun fact: FOX cable networks FS1 and F/X have ended up with three FCS vs. Pac-12 games so far during the current TV contract (2012: Portland St. at Washington, 2013: Nicholls St. at Oregon) .  ESPN has not had any yet.

Did Pac-12 Networks really short window a game in Week One to 2 hr, 45 minutes?  Yep.  Consider the Pac-12 Networks' National feed the "whiparound" feed for the purposes of joining games a little late & use the regional and online feeds to see the games in full.

Penn St. at Ohio St. isn't a night game? When the question was posed to me by multiple people, I had not read any of the releases in any great detail with respect to context.  But as several of you pointed out, FOX should be in the middle of their World Series coverage on October 28th and that is the priority.

You should also note that FOX broadcast network has no college football scheduled for October 14th and that October 21st has a night game scheduled for either FS1 or FS2.  My expectation is ALCS Game 1 or 2 can air in the evening on the 14th on the broadcast network and the football game on the 21st can be moved to FS2 with short notice if the ALCS goes to six or seven games.

I've typically believed that this particular window, not the matchup itself, should be at 12pm to guard against the possibility of weather impacting the start of the game, which it has in the past, pushing FOX to move games, say, to FOX News.

Hey! FS2 has East Carolina at West Virginia on September 9th.  Why? Surprise! Seriously though, due to FS1's coverage of the Walker Cup plus UFC prelims, the space they had to carry games that day is extremely limited.  My expectation for the possible FS2 game on 10/21 is that it will be a Big 12 game, probably the last of five selections that day, and if FS1 had more room on 9/9, it would be carrying this one.

So CBS didn't take a Week One game, but took TCU at Arkansas and now has a third doubleheader?  Yes.  It looks like CBS has a bit of freedom as to the weeks when they sublicense games from ESPN.  I'm in process of trying to figure out which games or telecast windows are the sublicenses.  TCU at Arkansas might be one and I am under the assumption that the second one is one of the two 12pm ET windows on November 11th or 18th.  For their usual 12pm & 3:30pm doubleheader, CBS picks 1st (3:30pm) & 4th (12pm) so it would make sense to do the same on the new doubleheader.

Besides the BTN and SEC Network games that haven't been announced, there were no start times or TV set for FIU at UCF, Liberty at Baylor and Cincinnati at Miami (OH).  Any idea why?  For the first two, I believe there might be some work being done to not play those games in the extreme heat of 12pm ET.  That's the current openings available on CBS Sports Network, who doesn't have an AAC game on 9/2, and FSN, respectively.  UCF says things will be finalized in the next two weeks, so maybe there's a date change in process to get out of the heat.

Baylor also says they Liberty game will be finalized in the near future.  The UTSA game appears to be the Bears' member retained game, so Liberty looks to be part of one TV partner's national package, probably FOX Sports.

As for Cincinnati at Miami (OH), I'm assuming there is no sublicense to STADIUM going forward, so maybe this one will end up on BCSN & Spectrum Sports.

Side note: If UCF truly is trying to stay out of the heat - USF, what are you doing with a 4pm kickoff on Labor Day weekend for an ESPN3 game?

STADIUM! You've brought that up before.  No C-USA announcement as to their games? Not yet, but I'm told they have a presentation for advertisers & media next week, so hold tight.

Any other fun facts?
  • Remaining Pac-12 in-season selections
    • ESPN: 14
    • FOX Sports: 12
  • Remaining Big 12 in-season selections
    • ESPN: 19
      • Maximum of 23 games for the season
      • Kansas-Texas on Longhorn Network counts as a ESPN selection
    • FOX Sports: 22
      • After subtracting one game per school as member retained games & the conference championship, FOX Sports will have 31 Big 12 games as part of their national package
      • For now, since it was listed as member retained, Tulsa-Oklahoma St. is not part of the 31.
  • Remaining Big Ten in-season selections, assuming 25 selections each for ESPN & FOX Sports
    • ESPN: 15
    • FOX Sports: 15
    • BTN will have 45 games to air, assuming there isn't another partner to be announced.