Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Implications on College Sports Content if FOX Were to Sell Their RSNs

If you've not heard, 21st Century FOX is working on a sale of assets to Disney.  Some of those assets include portions of FOX Sports, specifically their regional sports network group.  A few things that came up with respect to college sports content that airs there.

* Some content is contracted directly to the individual regional sports networks.  Think of things like Saint Louis men's basketball on FOX Sports Midwest & Big West sports on the group of RSNs in southern California.  Assuming the RSNs are sold, I would think that those contracts would be included in the sale.

One place where this affects FOX Sports' national college sports portfolio is the Big 12.  Five schools have contracts with FOX Sports RSNs to air at least one football game per season and other content that the school elects to produce for television:

FOX Sports Southwest or Oklahoma
Oklahoma St.
Texas Tech

FOX Sports gets to define the member retained football game for all ten schools each year, which is a bit interesting because they're defining the game that would currently air on RSNs.  If they don't own those contracts (at that point, FOX Sports would not own 3rd tier rights to any Big 12 schools while ESPN could own those five plus Texas through Longhorn Network+), would FOX Sports be able to call the shots on what games were defined as 3rd tier?

+Kansas St. & Kansas also have existing working arrangements with ESPN3, with some content airing locally on linear TV through partnerships with other networks and outside the defined local area on ESPN3.

* The ACC maintains a big presence on FOX RSNs through a sublicense from Raycom, as Raycom own rights to both a regional cable package & over the air syndication package, but that content will move to the ESPN-owned ACC Network in the late summer of 2019.

* Some content on FOX Sports RSNs are tied to national TV contracts with FOX Sports.  Most likely this content would not move with these RSNs to ESPN, unless ESPN were to come to an agreement to have FOX provide this content to them.  This content is as follows:
  • Big 12 women's basketball
    • Some Big 12 women's basketball airing on RSNs comes from the 3rd tier school packages.
  • A package of "Olympic" / non-revenue sports from the Big 12, including championships in baseball, softball, etc.
  • Big East sports, particularly men's basketball
Where would this content go to is anyone's guess, assuming it doesn't follow the RSNs.  It could end up on FS1 or FS2.  Maybe there's a push for this content to move exclusively to FOX Sports Go.  CBS Sports has a sublicense for Big East basketball that calls for 20-30 games.  So far, the number has been at 20 each year.

* Where does BTN fall in this equation?  I believe it is managed separately from the FOX Sports RSNs.  FOX Sports Media Group defines BTN as its own entity, separate from the RSNs, FS1, FS2, etc..  Doesn't mean it couldn't be part of the sale though.

* FOX College Sports is listed under the FOX Sports umbrella, but if they sold the RSNs & the underlying content to ESPN, there would be very little for that suite of channels to air.


Anonymous said...

Do we have any idea (yet) if this includes the three channels known as Fox College Sports (Atlantic, Central and Pacific)? Do your sources have any information on that, or is it too soon to tell? Thanks for any help you can provide.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

I don't have any sources on this. The last sentence / bullet point of this post is what I suspect could happen to FOX College Sports.

Darrell McKown said...

There are also 4-5 Big 12 conference games per year that end up overflowing to the FOX RSN's when there isn't room for them on FS1. I presume FS2 will now end up with more Big 12 games when FS1 can't fit them in due to other commitments.