Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Notes on CFB TV Revised Early Season Releases for 2020

Here's the releases from the ACC, American, Big 12, CBSESPN, FOX Sports, SEC (CBS and ESPN) and Sun Belt. An updated release wasn't provided from C-USA, though you can find the additional linear TV games ESPN has elevated in their release.

So many games were selected in advance. Why? In the case of the SEC, where it was more prominent, the following release was provided in the CBS release:

CBS Sports, at the request of the SEC, worked in conjunction with the Conference to assist them and their schools with their advanced planning and logistics. CBS selected games in six of the first eight weeks. For the remaining games on the schedule, the normal 12- or six-day selection process will be used during the season.

I get the feeling that this is something that is already ongoing. Whether its the Pac-12 & its priority pick concept for ESPN and FOX, or the Big Ten releasing several weeks of partial TV picks beyond the first few weeks, these networks typically have a path plotted out for the season. Unless a major story develops in season like a team far exceeding expectations or playing below them, it seems pretty rare to deviate from them. And that's why the dreaded six day hold is used.

Notre Dame on USA. Why? Several things converged on the NBC Sports calendar.

  • The US Open being carried on NBC that weekend
  • NBCSN carrying some Premier League soccer and the Tour de France
  • The need to keep the calendar open for the Stanley Cup playoffs
The soccer conflict is Premier League Goal Zone currently scheduled for NBCSN at 2:30pm, but that could disappear if the NHL needs it. IndyCar needing it was also mentioned, but the articles I've seen mention that the rescheduled Mid-Ohio event (now a doubleheader) is rumored for the weekend prior.

1986 was the last time USA aired any college football.

Why the odd start time for Alabama at LSU? CBS chose Georgia at Alabama as its primetime game on 10/17. When the revised SEC schedule was released, Alabama at LSU was placed on the same weekend as CBS carrying the Masters. The golf is now being played in limited daylight and will air earlier in the day on CBS, but would overlap the usual 3:30pm ET CBS window, so an adjustment was made for this one to air at 6pm ET.

Two Navy home games on ESPN Network? Yes. It appears that the BYU game replaces the canceled Notre Dame game being part of the American's TV package with ESPN, so ESPN then grabbed the Memphis game on 11/14 as their "regular" Navy game in 2020. 

Big 12 member retained games: Are those a thing in 2020? It looks like it. I haven't had time to reach out to anyone to ask about it, but this makes a lot of sense:
Texas Tech also seems to have had their member retained game accounted for, so there should be seven more ESPN+ games coming throughout the season.

Saw the item regarding FOX's pregame show and you tweeted that it would air even on weeks when FOX doesn't have a game. Tell me more. The way the Big 12 has scheduled, there won't be games on 9/19, and it is my understanding they won't have a Big 12 game one weekend each in October & November, but they'll still carry their pregame show coming into the 12pm Eastern games. The October weekend would likely involve FOX carrying the MLB playoffs.

The Sun Belt has a lot more games on ESPN this year. Yes, the conference has really been able to take advantage of the openings created by other conferences not playing or not starting right away, plus several changes within the American and ACC schedules to open up some Thursday night windows that were previously filled. I would assume at least one Saturday Sun Belt game is considered for linear TV each week, even when the SEC is added in as both they and the ACC will likely be making sure they can fill as many of their SEC Network and ACC Network openings first.

Are there still appearance maximums that need to be followed by, say, the SEC on CBS? I would assume so, but they may be scaled back due to CBS carrying less games. With CBS carrying 11 regular season games instead of 15, it would stand to reason that the appearance maximum could be decreased by one, but that is not something I'm aware of. That would give CBS the leeway to choose the Iron Bowl on 11/28 as Alabama & LSU both already have three games planned for CBS.

A Big 12 game at 10pm ET? Yes. FS1 has a MLB game scheduled for 7pm ET on 9/12, so Coastal Carolina at Kansas is pushed to that time slot (9pm CT). No fans will be attending, but its still a later start. Big 12 games used to have exclusivity rules around their ABC, FSN and TBS windows over a decade ago, so a game not selected for those TV partners would either have to air their game on PPV or start at 10pm, which happened last in 2004.

I'm not as bullish as those of you that believe the Big 12 could regularly have 10pm ET starts. I think this was a rare occurrence due to the MLB game plus how the Big 12 stacked all of its non-conference games initially on one day with SMU at TCU being moved to alleviate some of that pressure. FOX will air usually one game at 12pm ET each week and if ESPN+ takes roughly one game a week to work in the member retained games, there should be 2-3 games to split amongst both ESPN and FOX Sports without needing to use late night. 

Late night likely will be reserved for BYU and I don't get the sense that ESPN is planning to use it for anyone else at this time. Notice that some of their primetime games are starting at 7:30pm ET, which would likely end at 11pm and lead right into SportsCenter. 

What else are you waiting to hear about? Two items:

  • Some of the items regarding C-USA rightsholders that I haven't been able to get answered. Especially since more games were selected to air on linear TV.
  • Where is Navy at Air Force going to air on 10/3? It is the only Mountain West controlled game being played in the fall this season. I assume CBS or CBS Sports Network as there are openings available to the game.


Anonymous said...

This was published back when the current Big 12 TV deals were signed. Assuming this hasn't changed, the networks can have 4 Big 12 games start later than 7pm CT. So there could be a few more late night kickoffs.

Q. What are the telecast times for Big 12 football games?
A. This is an area where we have to do a good job of educating our fans. In the past the Conference had established windows at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and then either 6 or 7 p.m. CT (with an occasional odd time for cable games on ESPN). For the most part The Big 12 will have games at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. CT. ESPN has the right to telecast four games later than 7 p.m. CT.

daniel anderson said...

ESPN will only delay SportsCenter for BYU, but i could see a few Big 12 games starting at 10pm.

Darrell McKown said...

I was a bit surprised not to see several UTEP games at 10:15 or 10:30 ET on ESPNU. Although in Texas, UTEP is in the Mountain time zone (despite all the reports that BYU is only college playing from the Mountain or Pacific time zones) and could fill a late time slot with an 8:15 or 8:30 local start. I realize it's UTEP, but I have to believe the five UTEP home games that ESPN controls would be better content than whatever ESPNU will otherwise be running late Saturday nights.

bigddan11 said...

NHL matches are all in Primetime for the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals once the current round is done. The date for Notre Dame on USA falls when the Stanley Cup Finals will be taking place, which is when NASCAR is scheduled on NBCSN, so that wasn't a factor in determining a network.

bigddan11 said...

No one ever said BYU was the only team in the Mountain Time Zone playing. They've said West of Texas playing the full season, not Mountain Time Zone. Last I checked El Paso was still in Texas, and while Air Force is playing a partial schedule 2 games certainly isn't a full one. So the statement is 100% true- BYU is the only team West of Texas playing a full schedule.

Darrell McKown said...

Several articles have said "Mountain or Pacific time zones" rather than "west of Texas". I'm well aware of where El Paso is, which is why I knew that one statement is correct while the other is incorrect, and that they can't be used interchangeably.