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.

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

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 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

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.

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

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 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

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.