Category Archives: Television

Is There a Bubble in College Football?

On Tuesday, I joined Jason Anderson on ESPN Louisville to discuss whether there’s a bubble in college football that’s ready to burst and what the reported new Big Ten television deal with Fox tells us about the current state of both college football and sports on television.

Listen here:

SEC Network Revenue Projections

Great interview by The Advocate with Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president for college networks, on SEC Network. Here are some quick facts from that article and what we know about SEC Network already:

SEC Network

  • SportsBusiness Journal‘s projections have subscriber fees at $1.30 per month/per subscriber in the 11-state SEC footprint, and $0.25 per month/per subscriber outside of the SEC footprint.
  • There are 30 million estimated subscribers within the SEC footprint, which could generate $468 million in revenue annually with a $1.30 subscriber fee. Factor in advertising revenue, and revenue from subscribers outside of the SEC footprint, and you’re looking at the possibility of $500 million annually if the network reaches full distribution according to The Advocate. The article from The Advocate goes on to say that breaks down to $35.7 million annually for each of the SEC’s 14 schools, however, my followers on Twitter like @TxAgLawGuy, @carnot3 and @JayAU92 correctly pointed out that doesn’t include ESPN’s cut (which hasn’t been made public) or the fact that the SEC office splits revenue 15 ways to give itself a cut for operating expenses.
  • Programming: in the first full year, more than 1,000 live events will be available on SEC Network, including 450 live games on television (and an additional 550 distributed digitally). Live games will include “approximately 45 football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games and events from across all 21 SEC-sponsored sports.”
  • Commissioner Mike Slive on SEC spring meetings this week: “I think it’s unrealistic to think we’ll have full distribution at the time when we launch in August.” Keep in mind Big Ten Network launched to 17-18 million households initially. After Appalachian State beat No.5-ranked Michigan, Dish Network signed on to get the network to 30 million households. However, Big Ten Network remained in a stalemate with Comcast and Time Warner through most of its first season. It took two years for Big Ten Network to have full distribution in its footprint. Pac-12 Networks launched to 48 million homes thanks to deals with Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and BrightHouse. Eventually, AT&T U-verse and Dish Network, but it still hasn’t reached a deal with DirecTV.
  • All 14 SEC teams will have a game on SEC Network in the first four weeks of the 2014 football season.
  • Currently, SEC Network has distribution deals with AT&T U-verse, DISH, Google Fiber and NRTC. That covers about 25 percent of subscribers in the SEC’s footprint.
  • Launch date: August 14, 2014. First football games: August 28 (Texas A&M at South Carolina and Temple at Vanderbilt).

SEC Network to feature all 14 teams in first four weeks

The SEC today released a preliminary schedule for SEC Network’s first four weeks of games:

2014 SEC College Football Schedule (subject to change):

Date Time (ET) Game
Thu, Aug. 28 6 p.m. Texas A&M at South Carolina
  9:15 p.m. Temple at Vanderbilt
Sat, Aug. 30 Noon Tennessee-Martin at Kentucky
  4 p.m. Arkansas at Auburn
  7:30 p.m. Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State
Sun, Aug. 31 7 p.m. Utah State at Tennessee
Sat, Sept. 6 Noon Florida Atlantic at Alabama
  Noon Arkansas State at Tennessee
  4 p.m. Eastern Michigan at Florida
  4 p.m. Nicholls State at Arkansas
  7:30 p.m. Sam Houston State at LSU
  7:30 p.m. Lamar at Texas A&M
Sat, Sept. 13 Noon UCF at Missouri
  4 p.m. Louisiana-Lafayette at Ole Miss
  7:30 p.m. Kentucky at Florida
Sat, Sept. 20 Noon Troy at Georgia
  4 p.m. TBD
  7:30 p.m. TBD

Every team in the SEC will play on the SEC Network at least once in the first four weeks. That won’t go unnoticed by fans or cable and satellite companies. As we get deeper in to the season, expect to start seeing marquee conference games show up on the schedule…likely in areas where a major provider hasn’t picked up SEC Network (if any of them are dumb enough to try and wait it out).

How are Fans Getting Their College Sports Fix?

Fans love their live college sports. It comes as no surprise then that over the years more and more NCAA games have been available on Cable and Satellite, with teams getting more national exposure than ever before. When teams and conferences create their own networks, the deals that cable providers make to carry these networks can be extremely lucrative. The most recent of these deals comes in the form of DISH network coming to terms with The Walt Disney Company to carry both the Longhorn Network and SEC Network.

In response to this new deal, it is interesting to note how college sports fans are really watching their favorite teams compete. Prior to SEC Network signing on with DISH, the only providers that had arranged to carry the network were not national ones. Thus, if someone from outside the coverage networks of either AT&T U-Verse or National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative would have wanted to watch a program on SEC Network starting this summer, he or she would have had to look elsewhere.

With the proliferation of online streaming services, such as Netflix, when viewers can’t get their college sports fix on TV, it makes sense that they would turn to the Internet. In fact, ESPN is giving 15 college conferences their own dedicated, national TV channels streamed over the Internet through WatchESPN. These channels will initially be available on Apple TV and Roku set-top devices, but there are plans to expand to computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. Typically, one can access WatchESPN, a website that allows one to stream a multitude of ESPN channels, if he or she is a current subscriber of a traditional cable provider such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T U-verse TV, Cablevision, or Verizon FiOS. WatchESPN has also been available through Apple TV and Roku, whose subscribers have spent a higher than average time viewing WatchESPN, in comparison to those that have access to it through their cable subscriptions. The 15 new college conference channels are from those conferences that do not have a major TV presence currently, such as the ACC, America East, Big West, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Southern, and Sun Belt.

The Costs of Watching College Sports

One of the advantages of WatchESPN providing these channels on Roku and Apple TV is that the conferences do not need to negotiate with cable or satellite providers about carriage fees and terms. What some viewers do not realize is this helps them from paying those TV subscriptions fees that seem to increase every year. When ESPN inks a deal with a certain conference (professional or collegiate), it usually pays a hefty price to broadcast the games. Those costs are then passed onto the TV providers (cable or satellite) that broadcast ESPN. Finally, those costs are then passed onto the viewers, who continue pay for the cable and satellite subscriptions due to the fact that these TV providers are still the main players in bringing live sports action into the home.

Besides the costs borne by viewers, TV providers also stand to bear dire costs by not providing their subscribers with the college teams that they want to watch. Presently, DirecTV, unlike its main competitor DISH Network, has not come to terms to carry the SEC Network. This has angered many fans, with some of them taking to Twitter to threaten that they would switch providers if DirecTV will not carry it. How many subscribers would actually switch still remains to be seen, but since many hardcore sports fans choose DirecTV because of its NFL Sunday Ticket package, the number could potentially be substantial.

A more in-depth breakdown of the costs associated with carrying collegiate sports on television can be found here.

DISH Will Carry Longhorn Network and SEC Network

SEC NetworkDISH has reached a wide-ranging deal with The Walt Disney Company, which includes Longhorn Network and SEC Network. The channels are headed to your DISH lineup in time for college football season this fall if you have the America’s Top 120+ and higher packages.

Longhorn Network, which launched in 2011, will see its distribution numbers double with the DISH deal, and DISH is the first nationwide provider to announce it will carry SEC Network. AT&T U-Verse has also committed to carrying the SEC Network, but the cable company is currently available in just 22 states to 5.5 million subscribers.

Both Longhorn Network and SEC Network will be available to DISH subscribers both at home and on-the-go, allowing fans to view live and on-demand content on their computers, tablets and mobile devices.

Longhorn Network features more than 175 athletic events a year, including at least one University of Texas non-conference football game each year. Last year, LHN aired three games: two non-conference games against New Mexico State and Ole Miss, and one conference game against Kansas. LHN also airs coaches’ shows and pre- and post-game coverage, along with events from 20 sports, academic and cultural programming.

SEC Network launches this August and will air more than 1,000 live events, including three football games each Saturday. In addition, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games, and 50 softball games and events from other SEC sports will be featured on SEC Network for the 2014-2015 school year. SEC Network will also air a College GameDay-like show on Saturday mornings called SEC Nation, which will feature Tim Tebow as an analyst.

In addition to the other new offerings, DISH subscribers will also get access to WatchESPN for the first time with the new deal, along with ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater. ESPNEWS, ESPNU will also launch in high definition on DISH with the new agreement, and ESPN Classic will be offered as a video-on-demand channel. In addition, the new deal gives DISH subscribers a host of Disney and ABC on-demand products.

Kristi A. Dosh is an attorney and founder of Her latest book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, is available now. Visit for retailers and a sneak peak at the first chapter! Follow her on Twitter: @SportsBizMiss.

The Future of Sports on Television

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports Media & Technology conference in New York City. There was some really interesting conversation on multiple panels about the future of live sports on television, so I wanted to summarize here in case you missed all my live tweeting from the event. Although not all of the discussion is applicable to college sports, I thought it was worth sharing. Here are the highlights from each panel or speaker:

Michael White, Chairman, CEO & President, DirecTV

  • Talks for NFL Sunday Ticket have been “constructive,” said White. He’s optimistic they get a deal done. On a later panel, NFL Media’s Brian Rolapp would say they continue to talk, but he would decline to give a percentage chance the deal will get done when asked to do so.
  • White says he doesn’t see any significant trend in “cord cutting,” noting paid television subscribers down just 100,000 last year. (However, a media analyst would say on a later panel —
  • Going forward he’s not sure subscribers will continue to support a model where they’re essentially taxed for sports programming because it’s included whether they want it in their package or not.
  • That being said, White later expressed that he wasn’t sure a la carte pricing would work. He thinks it would best be discussed for channels that want more than $1/month/subscriber.
  • In reference to Pac-12 Networks and CSN Houston (neither of which are currently carried by DirecTV, White said the days are gone where you can gain additional subscribers by adding a channel. I’d note that’s different from the discussion of whether you lose subscribers over failing to carry a network.
  • As it relates to CSN Houston not being carried by DirecTV, White said they divided up the potential viewing area into zones, with Houston being Zone 1 (those fans most likely to watch the channel). DirecTV’s research showed just 25 percent of subscribers in Zone 1 would pay for CSN Houston. White says they offered to carry CSN Houston a la carte, but that the network wasn’t amenable.
  • White was asked about a new low-cost package Comcast is offering that does not include ESPN (which, if you’re unfamiliar, costs distributors $5.47/subscriber/month). White said he doesn’t think they’d have many takers, which means clearly his earlier remark about subscribers being taxed for sports programming they don’t want does not apply to ESPN.
  • Currently, DirecTV customers do not have access to WatchESPN. White says this is because ESPN wants a significant increase in fees to add it into the current contract. Subscribers expect to get it for free, so White says DirecTV will wait until it’s current contract is up “in a couple of years” with ESPN to address adding WatchESPN.

Ali Rowghani, COO, Twitter

  • No doubt, this most interesting thing that came from the Twitter COO was his statement that in the future you would be able to change your television channel directly from a tweet. When I tweeted this out, many of you wondered why exactly you would need this. Based on the rest of the conversation, which centered around Twitter integrating with live sports content, I would say it would give you the ability to change your channel from a tweet that perhaps alerted you to a comeback happening in a game. It would be much faster than seeing the tweet, looking for your remote, finding the channel airing the game, etc. I like the idea.
  • Being an avid Twitter user, I also found it interesting that Rowghani said one of Twitter’s main goals is to simplify, because it’s still inaccessible to the mainstream audience. Being that I’m on Twitter constantly and follow many people who integrate Twitter with their sports-watching experience, I was a little surprised by this. His example, however, was that a Vikings fan should be able to get on Twitter and get the best content about the Vikings. Obviously, right now if you just glanced at #Vikings you’d get content from a wide range of users who may or may not be adding anything substantive to the conversation. That being said, Rowghani repeatedly said Twitter doesn’t want to become a content editor.
  • Interesting stat Rowghani gave: 75 percent of conversation on Twitter around a television show is consumed within one hour of the show airing.
  • Rowghani also talked about the growth of Twitter Amplify. If you don’t know what that is, check this out.

Sports Media Headlines of the Day: Perspectives from the Top

Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner, NHL; Lenny Daniels, Executive Vice President & COO, Turner Sports; Paul Fichtenbaum, Editor, Sports Group, Time Inc.; Brian Rolapp, COO, NFL Media

  • One of the major themes of this panel was that the internet isn’t ready for live sports from the major professional sports leagues just yet.
  • NFL Media’s Rolapp said, “Television remains the most consistent way to get our product out.”
  • In terms of someone like Netflix or YouTube getting involved in live sports, NFL Media’s Rolapp said they’d have to figure out how to structure a subscription model.
  • There will always be live games on NFL Network, said NFL Media’s Rolapp.
  • Turner EVP & COO Daniels says he expects their partnership with the NBA to continue for, “many years to come.” He also emphasized what Turner is doing to help the NBA grow it’s business. Very integrated partnership.
  • If you’re a content producer, Time Inc.’s Fichtenbaum says to embrace mobile. He says at any one time 50 percent of people reading stories are doing so on mobile devices.
  • NHL deputy commissioner Daly revealed the NHL is focused on the opposite of everyone else – they’re looking at television and mobile experience, because they feel the in-arena experience is already unique. I totally get it though, because I can’t watch the NHL on television, but I love it live.
  • The entire panel agreed we’ll see more sites like Bill Simmons’ Grantland and Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback.

Richard Greenfield, Managing Director, Media & Technology, Analyst, BTIG

  • Greenfield says the NFL is in a tough position – they can stay with DirecTV, a 20-year league partner, and perhaps accept a little less than they could get from Google, or they can go with Google where the platform might not be as efficient but they’d make more money.
  • In reference to comments that the internet isn’t reliable enough yet for something like NFL Sunday Ticket, Greenfield says two years (time left on DirecTV deal) is plenty of time to address. As a consumer who tries to watch games on WatchESPN and on a somewhat regular basis already, however, I have to say that it’s not just about the platforms making the experience bug-free, it’s also about where you’re accessing the internet and the bandwidth and reliability you’re getting on your end. I can tell you trying to stream games from those platforms in hotel rooms is rarely a good experience.
  • Greenfield praised the Pac-12 Networks app and said it is the future of how content reaches consumers. He went on to say he absolutely thinks leagues will provide an increasing amount of content directly to consumers.

The Sports Bubble: Will the Media Rights Bubble Burst?

David Bank, Managing Director, Global Media and Internet Research, RBC Capital Markets; Reagan Feeney, Vice President, Content, DirecTV; Doug Perlman, Founder & CEO, Sports Media Advisors; Steve Raab, President, SNY; Mark Silverman, President, Big Ten Network

  • Bottom line: no one on the panel thought there was a sports bubble on the brink of bursting. Raab of SNY said growth rate may slow, but he doesn’t anticipate decrease, and Silverman of Big Ten Network agreed.
  • DirecTV’s Feeney explained their dilemma is serving both sports and non-sports fans, which can be tough when new sports channels demand to be available on certain tiers.
  • When asked about DirecTV not carrying Pac-12 Networks and CSN Houston, DirecTV’s Feeney talked more generally about looking at whether fans are served in other ways. For example, if only 10 percent of games are available on a new network, does it really need to be carried or can fans be served effectively with the 90 percent available on other networks? In other words, if you’re starting a new network, it’s important to stock it with games fans can’t live without.
  • Big Ten Network’s Silverman says the role of the network in realignment has been overstated. He went on to say that no one would argue that Big Ten Network’s value is “massively more” with the addition of Maryland or Rutgers.

Want to relive more of the conference? I’ve created a story on Storify with all my tweets from the various panels and interviews, which you can view here.


Kristi A. Dosh is an attorney and founder of Her latest book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, is available now. Visit for retailers and a sneak peak at the first chapter! Follow her on Twitter: @SportsBizMiss.

Kansas and IMG Ink Deal with Time Warner Cable Sports

Kansas Jayhawks

Today, Kansas Athletics and IMG College announced a new long-term television partnership with Time Warner Cable Sports. The deal will see over 300 hours of original programming air annually, including live games and “extensive non-game programming solely focused on the Jayhawks,” according to a press release.

In addition to live programming, non-game programming will be available via video on-demand to Time Warner Cable customers around the country. Regionally, Time Warner Cable Metro Sports, will carry live games, including football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer and track and field events.

“When Time Warner Cable Sports approached us with this concept, we knew, if done right, it could greatly benefit Kansas Athletics and our fan base,” Kansas Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger said. “With more Kansas Athletics programming available throughout the state and to Time Warner cable customers throughout the country than ever has been before, Jayhawk fans will have more opportunities to catch our sports in action. We are eager to work with Time Warner Cable Metro Sports to bring this exciting concept to life.”

Non-game programming will include, “pre- and post-game shows for Jayhawk football and men’s basketball games, a weekly “magazine-style” show, Hawk Talk Radio Show simulcasts, a social media-centered show driven by fans, live press conferences, a Jayhawk Rewind highlight show, a quarterly Jayhawk Legends series and quarterly University of Kansas academic specials,” according to the press release.


SEC Network: It’s Official

They did it again! The Southeastern Conference proved once more that they are the conference to beat with the announcement of the SEC Network. As many know the new network had been silently in the works for a while, and as SEC Commissioner Mike Slive put it today, “Goodbye Project X, and hello SEC Network.” Slive was joined by President of ESPN, John Skipper, to announce that come August 2014 the new network will make its grand debut.

SEC partnered with ESPN for a 20-year agreement extending through 2034, the longest agreement in sports. “The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms,” Slive said.

“We will increase the exposure for all 14 of our institutions, and we will showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league.”

The new multiplatform network will air SEC content 24 hours a day and seven days a week, including over 1,000 live events its first year, 450 televised and 550 shown digitally. It will also show 45 live SEC football games annually (including three per week) and more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games and other events from the league’s 21 sports. Not just that, but programming will also consist of studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage.

The SEC is following in the footsteps of other conferences with networks such as the Big 10 and Pac-12 but is doing it with a little more finesse. What makes this deal so unique from the others (besides ESPN’s name being attached) is that the league partnered with its primary rights holder, ultimately allowing more movement through the distributors. “This is not a regional network,” Skipper said. “This is a national network.”

“We’re confident this is a new and unique opportunity, nothing like this has been done before,” Skipper said. “[T]he level of distribution we’ll have at the beginning, the quality of the production, the amount of the games that we’ll have, the sort of integration with digital platforms, is taking this to a whole new level”

AT&T U-Verse, the fastest growing television provider in the U.S., has been secured as the networks first national distributor.

CBS will continue to have the first pick of SEC games each week, but will no longer have an exclusive window at 3:30 p.m. as it has in past years. After CBS chooses its game, the decision on what will air on SEC Network versus other ESPN platforms will be made by a “content board.”

Slive declined to answer any questions on the financial details when asked about specifics of ownership percentages but did say, “both ESPN and SEC are happy.”

ESPN affiliate sales and marketing will oversee the network’s day-to-day operations. The network will originate from ESPN’s Charlotte, N.C., offices with additional staff located at the company’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters.  Staff announcements and additional details will be made in the coming months.

Follow Mackenzie on Twitter @KenzieThirkill

NCAA Tournament Viewership Up

From IMG College

The NCAA Tournament is off to its best start in viewership in 23 years.  A highly entertaining mix of marquee names, scrappy underdogs, the overlooked, and the schools no one saw coming is bringing a 6.3 average rating to the tournament – the most viewers since the event expanded to its current format.

On Sunday, across all networks (CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV), NCAA Tournament coverage averaged a very strong 7.6 overnight – the best average for the first Sunday of the tourney since ’93.  Highlights as reported by Sports Business Daily:

  • Kansas’ win over North Carolina on CBS led all weekend games with a 7.3 overnight Nielsen rating (+14% from comparable 2012 game)
  • Indiana’s win over Temple earned a 7.2 overnight (+20%)
  • Ohio State’s last-second win over Iowa State earned a 5.4 overnight in the early Sunday CBS window (+26%).
  • Florida Gulf Coast’s win over San Diego State earned a 2.8 overnight on TBS – the top-rated cable game of the weekend.

Each of the day parts across all four CBS/Turner networks showed a gain in viewers. Of note:.

  • The first daytime window (12:00-2:45pm) drew it highest rating since ’02.
  • The first primetime window (5:15-9:15pm) had its highest rating since ’91.