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.