Monday, May 4, 2020

CFB Early Season & Weeknight TV Announcements - Will They Happen On Time in 2020?

Today is first Monday of May, which you may or may not be aware of, because at this point every day seems to look a lot like the day before.  And since this blog's focus is on the television side of college football and men's college basketball, you might be aware that this month is often when conferences get together for their spring meetings and discuss the upcoming athletic year, rule changes, and interact with TV partners.  With those TV partners, usually a discussion around early season football start times comes up, along with a few scheduling nuggets throughout the season.

COVID-19 knocked out most of those in-person meetings and turned them into virtual meetings, so are those late May & early June announcements still on target?

I sent out requests to a few involved in this process and several were kind enough to respond.  Out of respect to them, I've elected not to share their names or which side of the table they sit on (TV, conference or school).

First off, they did note that spring meetings were still occurring with their TV partners.  Plans haven't ground to a halt when it comes to the 2020-21 athletic calendar.  There's been more time given to contingency planning, which shouldn't shock anyone, but there's business beyond football that gets settled up at these gatherings.  One mentioned that updates to football schedules, such as weeknight games, were still being finalized and prepped for announcement using the intended date they would be played on (ie. moving a Saturday game back a day or two).

The key word that all respondents came back with is "flexibility".  As of now, the target date of June 1 when most conferences want that information released is a goal they would like to hit, but each respondent cautioned that those announcements could certainly slip past that date as all parties have requested some form of flexibility when it comes to determining those start times.  Some respondents were waiting for spring meetings to commence to get a better picture of whether the start times announcements were truly feasible.  Another noted that the amount of events moving from spring & summer into later summer & fall would force adjustments into already established selection orders and the number of games a rightsholder might be expected to take on in a given week.  

Those "drafts" to determine when a rightsholder would select in a given week - that draft might prove to be worthless if there's any type of schedule movement, plus those previously mentioned professional events that have remained on the calendar, but with a late summer or fall date.  Those times where I scratch my head and try to count up the number of games a network has during the season and if they've gone over the expected count of games - they could really be pointless exercises.  They are in a lot of cases already, but even more so in this environment.  

Two conferences, the MAC and Mountain West, have already moved to a virtual media day.  One respondent didn't see where any in-person media day(s) events being held by conferences.  Online media days are the norm at the FCS level, so there's already a playbook that can be followed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

How Might the Thursday & Friday night CFB Schedules Shake Out for 2020?

Patching together Thursday & Friday night schedule.  Please note that I've left Black Friday alone as each network group could do something different.

Should look like this:

ESPN

Thursday night doesn't have much intrigue with the exception of potentially replacing SMU at Temple if there's an Eagles home game scheduled for that evening.  Friday still has a couple openings.

Please note that this is for ESPN & ESPN2 only.  ESPNU will have its own schedule of Thursday night games from the Sun Belt & HBCU conferences and Friday should have a package of Ivy League games.

Thursday
9/3: Clemson at Georgia Tech
9/10: None (opening night NFL)
9/17: UAB at Miami (FL)
9/24: UCF at ECU
10/1: Memphis at SMU
10/8: Tulane at Houston
10/15: Baylor at Texas Tech
10/22: Boston College at Virginia Tech
10/29: Utah at UCLA
11/5: SMU at Temple
11/12: ECU at Cincinnati
11/19: Florida State at Syracuse
11/26: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

Friday
9/4: North Carolina at UCF (ESPN)
9/11: Western Michigan at Cincinnati (ESPN2 with US Open on ESPN)
9/18: UCF at Georgia Tech (ESPN)
9/25: ???
10/2: Clemson at Boston College & Utah State at BYU (ESPN)
10/9: Miami (FL) at Wake Forest & Colorado at Arizona (ESPN)
10/16: UCF at Memphis & Houston at BYU (ESPN, or one on ESPN while the other airs on ESPN2)
10/23: Tulsa at USF & Arizona at Washington (ESPN2)
10/30: ECU at Tulsa (ESPN2)
11/6: Virginia Tech at Pitt (ESPN2)
11/13: Virginia at Duke (ESPN2)
11/20: ???

Both nights that are currently open have UConn home games, so if ESPN were to be working with the Huskies to carry a couple football games, they could slot in here (Indiana on 9/25 moving from 9/26, Middle Tennessee on 11/20 moving from 11/21). 9/25 could end up being a night ESPN airs MLB as a "pennant race" window, pushing any college football to ESPN2 or vice versa.  11/20 could have a later game due to ESPN covering the NBA, plus ESPN2 & ESPNU should be carrying some early season men's college basketball events, so maybe not a UConn game, but a Sun Belt instead if it involves one of the schools on Central time.

FS1

Thursday
9/3: Oregon State at Oklahoma State
10/29: Iowa State at Kansas State

Friday
9/4: Indiana at Wisconsin
9/18: Iowa at Minnesota
9/25: Air Force at Fresno State or San Diego State at Nevada
10/2: USC at Utah
10/30: Oregon State at Stanford
11/6: BYU at Boise State
11/13: Arizona State at Oregon
11/20: Utah State at Colorado State

Why not the other Fridays?
  • 9/11 has regular season MLB on FS1 at 7pm ET.  I don't see a Mountain West game worth moving to air after MLB, though I could see UTEP at Nevada moving there if FS1 chose it.
  • I'm leaving open 10/9 & 10/16 for MLB postseason. I think they'll end up giving up one of their NLDS games on 10/2 to MLB Network which should allow them to carry USC at Utah.
  • On 10/23, FS1 has to be left open for Smackdown to air there due to the World Series airing on FOX. 
It would make some sense for FS1 to add Mountain West games on 9/25 (would have to be after NASCAR, but both MW schools hosting are on Pacific time, so an 8pm PT / 11pm ET host is possible, or the game airs on FS2) & 11/20.  I know they have the ability to carry up to five Mountain West Friday night games, but I don't they will use them all unless a couple Friday night games air on FS2.  At this time, I'm not sure I'd move games to Friday night to air on FS2, though it is in more homes than CBS Sports Network.

CBS Sports Network
I think things could shake out like this:

Thursday
9/3: Washington State at Utah State
10/15: WKU at UAB

Friday
9/4: Bucknell at Army (linear TV) & Wake Forest at Old Dominion (CBSSN on Facebook)
9/25: C-USA
10/3: UNLV at San Diego State
10/10: C-USA
10/17: Hawai'i at Air Force
10/24: Colorado State at UNLV
11/13: C-USA

At the moment, I've left 11/6 & 11/20 as unavailable.  11/6 already has the PBR World Finals late in the evening and I believe the Veterans Classic men's basketball event would be slotted in for the time leading into PBR.  On 11/20, there should be coverage of the Jamaica Classic men's basketball event all day.

As for why I selected specific Mountain West games, but didn't for C-USA except WKU at UAB, its because I don't have a great feel for which games would be candidates to move.  WKU at UAB is a unique situation as it is the only UAB home game that coincides with a Saturday where both Alabama and Auburn are at home vs. SEC opponents.  Figured it was a good idea to get UAB off of a Saturday date in that situation.

Also, my Week Three predictions had Utah at Wyoming as a candidate to move to Friday night, but I've backed away from that in favor of a C-USA game on 9/25.  After seeing that this would put Utah at three weeknight games, I figured they would not want the Wyoming game moved.

Others
It looks like ACC Network will carry three weeknight games

9/3: Either Clemson at Georgia Tech or NC State at Louisville
9/4: Syracuse at Boston College
9/11: Appalachian State at Wake Forest

SEC Network usually takes one or two games for the opening Thursday night of the season as well.  The options might be limited.  Some schools really do not want night classes disrupted if they are in session and the football stadium is on campus, as it can cause parking issues.  When Tennessee hosted a Thursday night game in 2016, they shut down classes for that day.

The games that could be targeted include Coastal Carolina at South Carolina, Abilene Christian at Texas A&M and Mercer at Vanderbilt.  Texas A&M has been the Thursday night host the last two years, so that could leave them out.  I know that my Week One predictions have Coastal Carolina at South Carolina & Nevada at Arkansas, but the latter might not be an option as it is being played in Fayetteville and not in Little Rock.  When Arkansas hosted Florida A&M on Thursday night in 2017, it was played in Little Rock.

Pac-12 Network should also be the carrier of the Northern Arizona at Arizona State game on 9/3.

Monday, March 2, 2020

2020 Early Season Selections (Take No. 2)

I usually take a mulligan on the first time I take a stab at the early season TV selections, so here's that mulligan.  The difference between that first try is that I didn't feel comfortable choosing games in Week Three because several Group of Five Conferences were not ready.  Now they are, so you'll get Week Three too.

To set up the posts:

* There's a lot not yet known about potential programming conflicts, like MLB on FOX & FS1, Big3/Fireball3 Championship on CBS and WNBA on CBSSN.  I've assumed one MLB game on FS1 on Saturday in both Week 1 & 2.

* Conflicts that have been considered include the US Open (all day Week 1 on ESPN2, midday on ESPN in Week 2), Little League World Series (Week 0 on ABC in afternoon) and motorsports on FOX (Week 1 on Sunday for FS1 & Monday on FOX)

* Still have no idea regarding what the plan is with Big 12 games on the FOX Sports branded & affiliated RSNs.  I elected not to place them on RSNs and use FS2 where I could.

* No clue as to whether any AAC games get sublicensed to CBS Sports Network.  At this point, I assumed none.

* For those keeping track, I assumed FOX Sports & ESPN had the top Saturday choice for these conferences in the first three Weeks

Week 1
ESPN: Big Ten (Bowling Green-Ohio St.) & Pac-12 (Alabama-USC)
FOX Sports: Big 12 (Buffalo-Kansas St., by default)

Week 2
ESPN: Big 12 (Tennessee-Oklahoma)
FOX Sports: Big Ten (Iowa St.-Iowa) & Pac-12 (Ohio St.-Oregon)

Week 3
ESPN: Big 12 (Maryland-West Virginia) & Pac-12 (USC-Stanford)
FOX Sports: Big Ten (Buffalo at Ohio State)

* The following choices were made regarding the Big 12 member retained games, because they set up the choices made for Weeks 1 & 2, and will help with week 3.

Week 1
New Hampshire at Kansas
Missouri St. at Oklahoma
USF at Texas

Week 2
North Dakota at Kansas St.
Prairie View A&M at TCU
Alabama St. at Texas Tech
Eastern Kentucky at West Virginia

Week 3
UIW at Baylor
UNLV at Iowa St.
Western Illinois at Oklahoma St.

Without further ado, Weeks 0 & 1Week 2 and Week 3.

2020 Week Three CFB TV Guesses

If a game:

* is in bold, the network, time & date is confirmed
* is in italics, the network & date is confirmed, but not the start time
* is in red, I made the date change to accomodate TV and that date change is not confirmed by anyone.
* isn't listed, its likely to be streamed through various streaming platforms (C-USA or MW for Facebook, MW Network, ESPN3, ESPN+, CBS All-Access etc.).

Thursday
7pm ESPN: UAB at Miami (FL)
7pm ACCN: Charlotte at Duke

Friday
8pm ESPN: UCF at Georgia Tech
8pm FS1: Iowa at Minnesota
9pm CBSSN: Utah at Wyoming

Saturday
12pm ABC: Maryland at West Virginia
12pm FOX: Florida State at Boise State
12pm ESPN: Auburn at Ole Miss
12pm ESPN2: Rutgers at Temple
12pm FS1: Vanderbilt at Kansas State
12pm ESPNU: NC State at Troy
12pm SECN: Missouri at South Carolina
12pm BTN: Central Michigan at Northwestern
12pm BTN: South Dakota State at Nebraska
12pm CBSSN: Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan
12pm ACCN: UConn at Virginia
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Colgate at Syracuse
2:30pm NBC: Western Michigan at Notre Dame
3pm Pac-12: Portland State at Oregon State
3:30pm ABC: Arkansas State at Michigan
3:30pm CBS: Georgia at Alabama
3:30pm ESPN: Air Force at Purdue
3:30pm ESPN2: Navy at Tulane
3:30pm FS1: San Jose State at Penn State
3:30pm SECN: Furman at Tennessee
3:30pm SECN: Kent State at Kentucky
3:30pm BTN: Appalachian State at Wisconsin
3:30pm BTN: Ball State at Indiana
3:30pm CBSSN: Virginia Tech at Middle Tennessee
3:30pm ACCN: James Madison at North Carolina
4pm FOX: Buffalo at Ohio State
4pm ESPNU: Cincinnati at Miami (OH)
6:30pm Pac-12: Hawai'i at Oregon
7pm ESPN: Colorado at Texas A&M
7pm ESPN2: Houston at Memphis
7pm FS1: Boston College at Kansas
7pm CBSSN: LSU vs. Rice
7:30pm ABC: USC at Stanford
7:30pm ESPNU: South Alabama at Florida
7:30pm SECN: Arkansas at Mississippi State
7:30pm BTN: Toledo at Michigan State
7:30pm BTN: Bowling Green at Illinois
7:30pm ACCN: Akron at Clemson
8pm FOX: Arizona at Texas Tech
8pm Longhorn: UTEP at Texas
10pm Pac-12: Idaho at Washington State
10:30pm ESPN: Utah State at Washington
10:30pm FS1: BYU at Arizona State
10:30pm CBSSN: UCLA at San Diego State

2020 Week Two CFB TV Guesses (Take No. 2)

If a game:

* is in bold, the network, time & date is confirmed
* is in italics, the network & date is confirmed, but not the start time
* is in red, I made the date change to accomodate TV and that date change is not confirmed by anyone.
* isn't listed, its likely to be streamed through various streaming platforms (C-USA or MW for Facebook, MW Network, ESPN3, ESPN+, CBS All-Access etc.).

Friday
7pm ACCN: Appalachian State at Wake Forest
7pm ESPN2: Western Michigan at Cincinnati

Saturday
12pm ABC: Penn State at Virginia Tech
12pm FOX: Iowa State at Iowa
12pm ESPN: Kentucky at Florida
12pm ESPN2: Memphis at Purdue
12pm FS1: Tulsa at Oklahoma State
12pm ESPNU: Central Michigan at Nebraska
12pm SECN: ECU at South Carolina
12pm BTN: Ball State at Michigan
12pm BTN: Southern Illinois at Wisconsin
12pm ACCN: Mississippi State at NC State
12:30pm ACC RSN: Samford at Florida State
2pm Pac-12: Fresno State at Colorado
2:30pm NBC: Arkansas at Notre Dame
3:30pm ABC: North Carolina vs. Auburn
3:30pm FOX: Ohio State at Oregon
3:30pm CBS: Boise State at Air Force
3:30pm ESPN2: Georgia State at Alabama
3:30pm FS1: Kansas at Baylor
3:30pm NFLN: Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss
3:30pm BTN: UConn at Illinois
3:30pm BTN: Tennessee Tech at Minnesota
3:30pm CBSSN: Lafayette at Navy
4pm ESPNU: FIU at UCF
4pm SECN: Southeast Missouri at Ole Miss
4pm SECN: North Texas at Texas A&M
4pm ACCN: Ohio at Boston College
4pm NESN+: Troy at UMass
5pm Pac-12: Houston at Washington State
5pm Pac-12 Bay Area: Cal Poly at California
7pm ESPN: Texas at LSU
7pm ESPN2: Tulane at Northwestern
7pm CBSSN: Pittsburgh at Marshall
7pm Stadium: Army at Rice
7:30pm ABC: Tennessee at Oklahoma
7:30pm FOX: Syracuse at Rutgers
7:30pm ESPNU: ETSU at Georgia
7:30pm SECN: Vanderbilt at Missouri
7:30pm BTN: Western Kentucky at Indiana
7:30pm BTN: Northern Illinois at Maryland
7:30pm ACCN: Louisville at Clemson
8pm Pac-12: Colorado State at Oregon State
8pm Pac-12 Mountain: Montana State at Utah
8pm AggieVision: Akron at NM State
10:15pm ESPN2: Michigan State at BYU
10:30pm ESPN: New Mexico at USC
10:30pm FS1: Stanford at Arizona
10:30pm CBSSN: Arizona State at UNLV
11pm Pac-12: Sacramento State at Washington
11:59pm Spectrum PPV: Fordham at Hawai'i

2020 Weeks Zero & One CFB TV Guesses (Take No. 2)

If a game:

* is in bold, the network, time & date is confirmed
* is in italics, the network & date is confirmed, but not the start time
* is in red, I made the date change to accomodate TV and that date change is not confirmed by anyone.
* isn't listed, its likely to be streamed through various streaming platforms (C-USA or MW for Facebook, MW Network, ESPN3, ESPN+, CBS All-Access etc.).

Week Zero
2pm ESPN: Notre Dame vs. Navy
6pm ESPN: Marshall at East Carolina
7pm ESPN2: Central Arkansas vs. Austin Peay
10pm FS1: Hawai'i at Arizona
10pm CBSSN: California at UNLV
10:30pm Pac-12: NM State at UCLA

Week One

Thursday
6pm SECN: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
7pm ESPN: Clemson at Georgia Tech
7:30pm SNY: UMass at UConn
8pm FS1: Oregon State at Oklahoma State
8pm ESPNU: Rice at Houston
8pm ACCN: NC State at Louisville
8pm BTN: FAU at Minnesota
9pm SECN: Nevada at Arkansas
9pm CBSSN: Washington State at Utah State
10pm ESPN: BYU at Utah
10pm Pac-12: Northern Arizona at Arizona State

Friday
6:30pm CBSSN: Bucknell at Army
7:30pm ACCN: Syracuse at Boston College
8pm ESPN: North Carolina at UCF
8pm FS1: Indiana at Wisconsin
8pm BTN: Illinois State at Illinois

Saturday
12pm ABC: West Virginia vs. Florida State
12pm FOX: Purdue at Nebraska
12pm ESPN: Northwestern at Michigan State
12pm FS1: Buffalo at Kansas State
12pm ESPNU: Eastern Washington at Florida
12pm SECN: Eastern Michigan at Kentucky
12pm SECN: Central Arkansas at Missouri
12pm BTN: Kent State at Penn State
12pm ACCN: Miami (OH) at Pittsburgh
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Middle Tennessee at Duke
3pm Pac-12: North Dakota State at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Bowling Green at Ohio State
3:30pm CBS: Colorado at Colorado State
3:30pm FOX: Michigan at Washington
3:30pm ESPN: Baylor vs. Ole Miss
3:30pm ESPNU: Arkansas State at Memphis
3:30pm BTN: Monmouth at Rutgers
3:30pm BTN: Towson at Maryland
4pm SECN: New Mexico at Mississippi State
4pm SECN: Mercer at Vanderbilt
4pm CBSSN: San Jose State at Central Michigan
4pm ACCN: Liberty at Virginia Tech
6pm FS2: South Dakota at Iowa State
7pm ESPN: UTSA at LSU
7pm Pac-12: William & Mary at Stanford
7pm Sooner Sports PPV: Missouri State at Oklahoma
7:30pm ABC: Alabama vs. USC
7:30pm ESPNU: Charlotte at Tennessee
7:30pm SECN: Abilene Christian at Texas A&M
7:30pm SECN: Alcorn State at Auburn
7:30pm BTN: Northern Iowa at Iowa
7:30pm ACCN: Temple at Miami (FL)
8pm CBSSN: Texas Tech at UTEP
8pm Longhorn: USF at Texas
9pm FS1: Georgia Southern at Boise State
10pm FS2: Louisiana Tech at UNLV
10:30pm ESPN: TCU at California
11pm Pac-12: Portland State at Arizona
11:30pm CBSSN: UCLA at Hawai'i

Sunday
3:30pm ESPN2: South Carolina State vs. Grambling
5pm NFLN: Central State vs. Howard

Monday
8pm ESPN: Virginia vs. Georgia

Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 Early Season CFB TV Guesses

Here's the first two weeks of CFB TV guesses for 2020.

To set up the posts:

* This is a first stab.  I tend to take one mulligan on these things.  I looked through the opponents for the American, MAC, MW and Sun Belt schools and don't see an intraconference game from those schedules being announced for Weeks 0, 1 or 2.

Edit: Boise St. at Air Force is available to be played in Week 2.

* There's a lot not yet known about potential programming conflicts, like MLB on FOX & FS1, Big3/Fireball3 on CBS and WNBA on CBSSN.  I've assumed one MLB game on FS1 on Saturday in both Week 1 & 2.

* I have no idea regarding what the plan is with Big 12 games on the FOX Sports branded & affiliated RSNs.  I elected not to place them on RSNs and use FS2 where I could.

* No clue as to whether any AAC games get sublicensed to CBS Sports Network.  At this point, I assumed none.

* For those keeping track, I assumed FOX Sports & ESPN had the top Saturday choice for these conferences in the Weeks 1 & Two

Week 1
ESPN: Big Ten (Bowling Green-Ohio St.) & Pac-12 (Alabama-USC)
FOX Sports: Big 12 (Buffalo-Kansas St., by default)

Week 2
ESPN: Big 12 (Tennessee-Oklahoma)
FOX Sports: Big Ten (Iowa St.-Iowa) & Pac-12 (Ohio St.-Oregon)

* The following choices were made regarding the Big 12 member retained games, because they set up the choices made for Weeks 1 & 2, and will help with week 3.

Week 1
New Hampshire at Kansas
Missouri St. at Oklahoma
USF at Texas

Week 2
North Dakota at Kansas St.
Prairie View A&M at TCU
Alabama St. at Texas Tech
Eastern Kentucky at West Virginia

Week 3
UIW at Baylor
UNLV at Iowa St.
Western Illinois at Oklahoma St.

Without further ado, Weeks 0 & 1 and Week 2.  Week 3 will be linked here when ready.

2020 Week Two CFB TV Guesses

If a game:

* is in bold, the network, time & date is confirmed
* is in italics, the network & date is confirmed, but not the start time
* is in red, I made the date change to accomodate TV and that date change is not confirmed by anyone.
* isn't listed, its likely to be streamed through various streaming platforms (C-USA or MW for Facebook, MW Network, ESPN3, ESPN+, CBS All-Access etc.).

NOTE: Boise St. at Air Force is not yet a scheduled game.  I've added it here as a possibility since the two schools are not scheduled to play another opponent.

Friday
7pm ACCN: Appalachian St. at Wake Forest
7pm ESPN2: San Diego St. at Toledo

Saturday
12pm ABC: Penn St. at Virginia Tech
12pm FOX: Iowa St. at Iowa
12pm ESPN: Kentucky at Florida
12pm ESPN2: Memphis at Purdue
12pm FS1: Tulsa at Oklahoma St.
12pm ESPNU: Central Michigan at Nebraska
12pm SECN: East Carolina at South Carolina
12pm BTN: Ball St. at Michigan
12pm BTN: Southern Illinois at Wisconsin
12pm CBSSN: Pittsburgh at Marshall
12pm ACCN: Mississippi St. at NC State
12:30pm ACC RSN: Samford at Florida St.
2pm Pac-12: Fresno St. at Colorado
3:30pm ABC: North Carolina vs. Auburn
3:30pm FOX: Ohio St. at Oregon
3:30pm NBC: Arkansas at Notre Dame
3:30pm ESPN2: Georgia St. at Alabama
3:30pm FS1: Kansas at Baylor
3:30pm NFLN: Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss
3:30pm BTN: Connecticut at Illinois
3:30pm BTN: Tennessee Tech at Minnesota
3:30pm CBSSN: Lafayette at Navy
4pm ESPNU: FIU at UCF
4pm SECN: Southeast Missouri at Ole Miss
4pm SECN: North Texas at Texas A&M
4pm ACCN: Ohio at Boston College
4pm NESN+: Troy at Massachusetts
5pm Pac-12: Houston at Washington St.
5pm Pac-12 Bay Area: Cal Poly at California
7pm ESPN: Texas at LSU
7pm ESPN2: Tulane at Northwestern
7pm CBSSN: Boise St. at Air Force
7:30pm ABC: Tennessee at Oklahoma
7:30pm FOX: Syracuse at Rutgers
7:30pm ESPNU: East Tennessee St. at Georgia
7:30pm SECN: Vanderbilt at Missouri
7:30pm BTN: Western Kentucky at Indiana
7:30pm BTN: Northern Illinois at Maryland
7:30pm ACCN: Louisville at Clemson
8pm Pac-12: Colorado St. at Oregon St.
8pm Pac-12 Mountain: Montana St. at Utah
8pm AggieVision: Akron at New Mexico St.
10:15pm ESPN2: Michigan St. at BYU
10:30pm ESPN: New Mexico at USC
10:30pm FS1: Stanford at Arizona
10:30pm CBSSN: Arizona St. at UNLV
11pm Pac-12: Sacramento St. at Washington
11:59pm Spectrum PPV: Fordham at Hawai'i

2020 Weeks Zero & One CFB TV Guesses

If a game:

* is in bold, the network, time & date is confirmed
* is in italics, the network & date is confirmed, but not the start time
* is in red, I made the date change to accomodate TV and that date change is not confirmed by anyone.
* isn't listed, its likely to be streamed through various streaming platforms (C-USA or MW for Facebook, MW Network, ESPN3, ESPN+, etc.).

Week Zero
2pm ESPN: Notre Dame vs. Navy
3pm CBS: California at UNLV
10pm FS1: Hawai'i at Arizona
10:30pm Pac-12: New Mexico St. at UCLA

Week One

Thursday
6pm SECN: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
7pm ESPN: Clemson at Georgia Tech
7:30pm SNY: Massachusetts at Connecticut
8pm FS1: Oregon St. at Oklahoma St.
8pm ACCN: NC State at Louisville
8pm BTN: FAU at Minnesota
9pm SECN: Nevada at Arkansas
10pm ESPN: BYU at Utah
10pm Pac-12: Northern Arizona at Arizona St.

Friday
6:30pm CBSSN: Bucknell at Army
7:30pm ACCN: Syracuse at Boston College
8pm ESPN: North Carolina at UCF
8pm FS1: Indiana at Wisconsin
8pm BTN: Illinois St. at Illinois

Saturday
12pm ABC: West Virginia vs. Florida St.
12pm FOX: Purdue at Nebraska
12pm ESPN: Northwestern at Michigan St.
12pm FS1: Buffalo at Kansas St.
12pm ESPNU: Eastern Washington at Florida
12pm SECN: Eastern Michigan at Kentucky
12pm SECN: Central Arkansas at Missouri
12pm BTN: Kent St. at Penn St.
12pm ACCN: Miami (OH) at Pittsburgh
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Middle Tennessee at Duke
3pm Pac-12: North Dakota St. at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Bowling Green at Ohio St.
3:30pm CBS: Colorado at Colorado St.
3:30pm FOX: Michigan at Washington
3:30pm ESPN: Baylor vs. Ole Miss
3:30pm ESPNU: Rice at Houston
3:30pm BTN: Monmouth at Rutgers
3:30pm BTN: Towson at Maryland
4pm CBSSN: Washington St. at Utah St.
4pm SECN: New Mexico at Mississippi St.
4pm SECN: Mercer at Vanderbilt
4pm ACCN: Liberty at Virginia Tech
6pm FS2: South Dakota at Iowa St.
7pm ESPN: UTSA at LSU
7pm Pac-12: William & Mary at Stanford
7pm Sooner Sports PPV: Missouri St. at Oklahoma
7:30pm ABC: Alabama vs. USC
7:30pm ESPNU: Charlotte at Tennessee
7:30pm SECN: Abilene Christian at Texas A&M
7:30pm SECN: Alcorn St. at Auburn
7:30pm BTN: Northern Iowa at Iowa
7:30pm ACCN: Temple at Miami (FL)
8pm CBSSN: Texas Tech at UTEP
8pm Longhorn: USF at Texas
9pm FS1: Georgia Southern at Boise St.
10pm FS2: Louisiana Tech at UNLV
10:30pm ESPN: TCU at California
11pm Pac-12: Portland St. at Arizona
11:30pm CBSSN: UCLA at Hawai'i

Monday
8pm ESPN: Virginia vs. Georgia

Friday, January 10, 2020

Several Notes From the Mountain West Rights Agreements

Wanted to compile items I found interesting from the media call transcript for the announcement of the Mountain West's rights agreements with CBS Sports and FOX Sports.

* First, it is pretty rare for a conference commissioner to reveal a dollar amount publicly, though MW Commissioner Craig Thompson did couch it by noting that he wasn't going to reveal what either party was going to pay.

* CBS Sports paid for the possibility to carry ten extra games across either linear TV or CBS All-Access.  The All-Access service is branching out into exclusive sports with its upcoming coverage of UEFA Champions League.  These extra 10 games will be after both CBS Sports and FOX Sports "draft" their top 46 selections in football and men's basketball, so they can't place a top game on CBS All-Access, but an intraconference matchup is very likely.

There's also some flexibility here if CBS Sports and ESPN elect not to continue a sublicense agreement for American Athletic Conference content, excluding the agreement made for dividing up Navy's home football games, as some of these games could fill open spaces on linear TV.

Distributing live college sports exclusively via digital means isn't new to CBS Sports either, showing three football games and six men's basketball games per athletic yea via Facebook from Conference USA starting with the 2018-19 athletic year.

* The guarantee of three football games airing on CBS broadcast network is new.  Granted they will have open space once their SEC package moves on to ESPN in a few years(?), but with those top game selections, they can use open space during the first couple weeks of the season and Week Zero to potentially show those games since the SEC games wouldn't be likely to start before Week Three.  Possibly airing either Army or Navy's visit to Air Force would be a way to use the third if it is part of CBS Sports' selections.

* The conference's fact sheet noted the earliest start time of 11am local (1pm ET if Mountain Time school, /2pm ET if Pacific Time school/4-5pm ET if Hawai'i), but FOX Sports President Mark Silverman strongly hinted that they would like to position the Florida St.-Boise St. football game in their Big Noon window, which would be a 10am local start.  I suspect that 11am local could be the earliest start time for any games that could set during the season, but if a school agrees to it, there's some wiggle room, especially for broadcast television.  Everything's negotiable.

* Hawai'i will now get a cut of TV revenue from the conference, though that will supplement whatever they receive locally.  It was noted that Hawai'i had to contribute four of the games covered by the conference's TV parameters to be involved and it would be on top of any revenues they receive from any contract with Spectrum Sports in Hawai'i to show games on the islands.

A formula will be used calculate the difference once the distribution to members is figured out and Hawai'i finalizes its agreement.  Once the difference is computed, Hawai'i will get 80% of that difference.

As to the number of games the school has to contribute to the conference's media rights deal, contrinbuting four games is not out of range compared to previous seasons with the exception of 2019.  Here's the number of MW controlled Hawai'i games carried by CBS & ESPN packages since 2013 when the expiring TV deals began:
  • 2013: 3
  • 2014: 4
  • 2015: 3
  • 2016: 2
  • 2017: 4
  • 2018: 4
  • 2019: 5 (excludes MW Championship game)
I think its possible that this allows Hawai'i to be less concerned about missing revenue targets if they don't contribute a number of games to maximize their payout from any local TV deal.  The 2017 schedule only allowed for six PPV football games, which is one short of what Spectrum required to achieve their maximum payout.  This could allow UH to be flexible knowing that they could receive revenue from the MW to help with any gaps.

* Men's basketball scheduling could become more flexible.  Wednesday & Saturday dates form the base of the conference's schedule, with TV sliding games to Tuesdays & Sundays.  The media call suggested up to six days a week.  My uneducated guess is that Thursday & Friday could be in play, potentially for FOX Sports, especially for FS1 appearances.  Maybe some Big Ten + Mountain West Friday doubleheaders?

* FS2 is in play for FOX Sports.  It was prominently mentioned throughout the FOX Sports portion of the call and noted on graphics the conference posted on Twitter.

* Boise St.'s football media rights will no longer be negotiated separate from the rest of the conference.  This deal where FOX Sports gets the home games and CBS Sports Network gets the MW controlled road games appears to be the last time the conference will do this and it sounds like this is something Boise St. has agreed to.

* FOX Sports can and appears likely to use Labor Day, Friday after Thanksgiving, Week Zero to get the conference unique football exposure windows.  These special dates are outside of the maximum of ten Friday football games combined across CBS Sports and FOX Sports.

* There's more to come, likely from a digital streaming package.  Commissioner Thompson broke down the distribution based on 75 games:
  • 46 to the two national partners
  • 10 more to the pool that CBS Sports can be flexible with
That leaves around 19 games.  Some of those are going to go back to Hawai'i to form their own rights agreement.  But the conference said there would be a third tier, some of it via digital means.

* The remaining item that I didn't see explicitly spelled out was whether any games would have their start times set during the season.  There will be a draft of games, so we know that a large portion of the conference's football games will be claimed in advance.  We know there are parameters are start times, but does that apply to setting start times during the season, or will everything be set in advance?

Monday, January 6, 2020

What I'm Looking Forward to for College Football on TV in 2020

There's a few things I'm curious about coming into the 2020 college football season.

* First, we're back to 13 weeks to accomplish the regular season, plus a few stragglers in Week Zero.  But Week Zero is increasing.  Besides Notre Dame vs. Navy being played in Dublin, three of Hawai'i's four home Mountain West opponents are scheduled to play that weekend (Nevada, New Mexico and UNLV), plus New Mexico St. as one of the Warriors non-conference opponents.

The Mountain West schedule likely won't be out until sometime in the next 4-8 weeks, but its also possible that Boise St. could be asked to move a game to this date if they or the conference's TV partners wanted to.  Each of those schools playing at Hawai'i can also pick up a 13th regular season game if they so desire.  Same with Notre Dame & Navy, though I think the Fighting Irish won't do that.

* Speaking of Mountain West TV partners, the news that FOX Sports was coming in to replace ESPN appeared before the holidays.  It was met with some conjecture as others were reporting that the deal had not been completed.

My opinion is that the deal could be completed and a number of things could have occurred:
  • Legal departments are still vetting terms though a verbal agreement or a basic term sheet/memorandum of understanding is in place.
  • One of the reports' sources had not received word of an agreement in principle.
  • Grey areas, such as how to handle Boise St.'s home games which were separate from Mountain West TV deals and Hawai'i's Spectrum Sports.
  • The end of year holidays placing a hold on the news cycle
I do get the feeling that at least a deal for around 16 football games and 30+ basketball games has been completed.  

* With the addition of the Mountain West, plus an expected change in operations with the FOX Sports' branded regional sports networks coming in the spring, I'll be interested to see if FS2 ends up with more live content, such as a few Big 12 football games and a decent share of Mountain West sports.  I've been guilty of believing that FS2 should have been utilized earlier, but I think we might be closer to a point of that being a reality.

* BYU's TV deal with ESPN is ready to be announced supposedly, so is it in the same holding pattern, waiting for people to be in place to have media announcements, etc.?

* CBS Sports Network retaining the Mountain West and most Navy home games keeps their schedule relatively intact when added to their existing Army football and C-USA commitments, but I'm curious to see whether ESPN continues to sublicense any content to them from the American Athletic Conference.  The AAC is arguably the 2nd highest profile conference to place content on ESPN+ after the Big 12, so will ESPN be more apt to maximize that service's offerings vs. selling content?  Consider that CBSSN and ESPN continued their MAC sublicensing arrangement for four more athletic calendar years starting with 2019-20.

* I'd like to know if the Mountain West's partnership with Stadium will increase into the area of linear TV?  The WCC added a package of linear TV games to the partnership after having a handful of enhanced online productions for a few years.

* My own personal gripe is Stadium having the inventory content rights to the Patriot League, Mountain West and West Coast Conference, but dismantling their phone app & Roku channel.  Fun fact: not everyone wants to consume streaming content on a laptop or phone.  I had been told they were changing over their content distribution network, and maybe the addition of the FOX Sports branded RSNs will be part of a new online strategy for this content.

* Assuming the SEC and ESPN are finalizing an agreement for the package of football and men's basketball games that currently air on CBS, I really don't forsee CBS giving up control of the package multiple years in advance.  CBS will be a lame duck for around four years, but its four years of a significantly viewed product at a relatively cheap rate.  If CBS can sell ads against it and either make money or break even while pumping up their other TV properties they'll keep it.

* UConn's football rights for 2020 are another interesting property.  Would they be stuck going the route of UMass and New Mexico St., where regional linear TV was packaged with an over-the-top rightsholder for folks living outside of the regional TV areas?  I can't forsee a great demand for the product nationally, but if the school can regularly schedule Power 5 schools for a few home games, they should find some interest for a few national TV opportunities.

Would also be curious to see if UConn would continue to try to get a weeknight home game or two for national TV.  National TV tends to set those things to get games televised that wouldn't otherwise get significant viewership on Saturdays.