Monday, May 3, 2021

Comparing college sports TV content, 2019-20 to 2020-21 (Part 3)

Since I took a few weeks off to not check social media or think much about college sports, I neglected to finish this series of articles. Luckily I only had one to go.  To refresh you memory of what I was reviewing, take a look at parts 1 & 2.

Mountain West - Similar to the MAC, Big Ten and Pac-12, the Mountain West started its football schedule later and with cancellations, lost a fair number of games.  The conference was also in the unenviable position of starting a new series of rights agreements with FOX Sports, CBS Sports and Stadium, FOX Sports replaced ESPN as a rightsholder.  I don't know if there's an apples-to-anything comparison that can be made for the conference.

The Stadium deal seemed to be added for sports on linear TV that they were not already carrying, like men's basketball.  My assumption is they've been added for football too, but the short season, and the need to get games to both national TV partners and Hawai'i's PPV agreement kept them out of the game in 2020.

AT&T SN Regional80
ESPN Networks23N/A
MW Digital & Stadium Facebook90
Spectrum PPV76
FS1 & FS2N/A16

AT&T SN Regional240
ESPN Networks19N/A
MW Digital, Local TV & Stadium Facebook9255
Stadium TVN/A5

Pac-12 - Besides the shortened season, the big change was to not use the Pac-12 Networks during football season to make sure they had as many games as possible for national TV rights holders, and even then, due to cancellations, they fell short of the 22 games that both ESPN (14) and FOX Sports (16, plus the conference championship game) typically pay for.

Pac-12 Networks reappeared to provide coverage during men's basketball.  Overall, the conference was about flat its it numbers when it came to national partners in that sport.

ESPN Networks1611
Pac-12 Networks351

ESPN Networks4044
Pac-12 Networks139106

SEC - CBS went into the season knowing that their rights agreement for the SEC would be expiring in a few years, though the formal announcement by Disney didn't come until December.  They came into the season choosing more games up front and airing less games.

The ABC appearance for the SEC was a unique circumstance where an ACC game was canceled that morning and CBS had already had their SEC game canceled for the week and replaced with a Mountain West game.  ESPN had a SEC game already and since CBS was dark for the conference that week, it appears that there was no issue with ABC airing it.

The large decrease in football games on ESPN/2/U is a bit surprising but, similar to the ACC, I believe it was done to keep SEC Network fully stocked as ESPN could draw from so many other places to fill up their other networks.

Continuing a theme that you'll see for most conference, the basketball numbers for linear TV were pretty close to pre-pandemic levels.  Digital was often sacrificed to keep those numbers up.

ESPN Networks4020
SEC Network
& Alternate

ESPN Networks6258
SEC Network114112
SEC Digital6116

Sun Belt - Much like Conference USA, the Sun Belt benefitted from the late start of several Power 5 conferences, filling holes on Saturdays and on ESPN's weeknight schedule.  2020 would have been the first year of a new rights agreement to have a slight increase in games, but they really took advantage of the decisions that other conferences made to postpone their season's start.

In men's basketball, the majority of games remained on digital outlets like ESPN+ and school produced platforms, but there was a slight uptick in games on ESPN Networks linear TV (4, up from 2).

ESPN Networks1532
ESPN Digital4723

WCC - Our final conference is the West Coast Conference, who has three national linear TV partners in ESPN Networks, CBS Sports Network and Stadium.  Stadium also backs the conference's streaming service, WCC Network, and provides out of market streaming for most non-national TV games.

And while the conference consistently scrambled to have games available for schools to play to feed the mouths of those TV partners, they mostly matched the previous season guessed it...taking from their digital inventory when they had to.

ESPN Networks2221
Stadium TV99
Other TV and streaming13572

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