A few items on the 2020 C-USA college football TV schedule
1) Where is NFL Network? Just over a year ago, the conference agreed to a four year deal with the network to air ten games per season but today's announcement did not include them and didn't leave room for them to pick up other games.
Somewhere along the way, NFL Network was removed but I do not know when. Either way, NFL Network no longer appears to be a media partner for the conference after only one season. The network was known to be interested in Mountain West football, hoping to create a college doubleheader each Saturday as noted by Sports Business Journal, but lost out to FOX Sports and CBS Sports.
2) So who picked up the ten games? Hard to say, but CBS Sports Network has picked up five to eight more games to air (more on that variable number in the next point. Remember that CBSSN had their sublicense agreement with ESPN for American Athletic Conference football end after the 2019-20 athletic year. The network did pick up UConn football to fill some of that gap, but to completely fill it, they would need more content. Picking up the slack from the NFL Network maybe have been one way to fill that holes.
3) No games on Facebook? That's an interesting one. Stadium's portion of the schedule doesn't note any games on Facebook and CBS doesn't appear to be producing any games for the social media platform either, which is why I gave a variable number of how many more games CBSSN picked up.
Sinclair now controls the FOX Sports branded RSNs (maybe some Stadium games end up airing there) and CBS has really invested in adding live sports to their CBS All Access platform, which would have included the possibility for CBS to place Mountain West football and men's basketball games on the service starting with the 2020 season. I don't believe it made sense to be giving this content to another service, especially as media services have needed to become a bit more territorial under the pandemic.
4) How did ESPN get a linear TV game? I asked Russ Anderson from the conference about how Eastern Kentucky at Marshall was able to air on ESPN and he said that ESPN was allowed to elevate the game out of their digital package.
5) So is ESPN also picking up some of the NFL Network coverage? I don't know. Have asked the conference to follow up as to whether ESPN always had the option to air any of their digital exclusives on linear TV. ESPN did air five C-USA intraconference men's basketball games in 2020. If you remember, beIN Sports a previous rightsholder, carrying ten football and ten men's basketball games. NFL Network was a direct replacement for beIN Sports with respect to football, but were not going to be airing men's basketball, but ESPNU ended carrying the five men's basketball games, possibly on short notice.