Big 12 football: ESPN, Fox collusion troubling
The Longhorn Network is getting another game for its stash of content. Fox has allowed ESPN to move one of Texas’ conference games to the Longhorn Network.
Call it a can of worms. On both sides of the Platte, a million Nebraska fans are smiling, and this time, you can’t call them crazy.
Moving a Big 12 game to the Longhorn Network will cause quite the uproar this season. Depending on the opponent, it could be a firestorm. If it’s, say, Oklahoma State or Texas Tech, that means fans of the Cowboys or the Red Raiders possibly could have to subscribe to the Longhorn Network to see the game.
Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said ESPN, which is a partner in the Longhorn Network, has agreed to make a “best effort” to get the game placed in the market of Texas’ opponent, which would minimize the damage. But it’s a PR fiasco.
Just what Nebraska warned could happen is happening. The Texas network is causing all kinds of problems. And here’s the kicker. It’s not even Texas’ doing.
The blame for this lies at the feet of ESPN and Fox Sports Net. ESPN hatched this idea, trying to build subscribers to the network and recoup its $300 million commitment. But Fox had to sign off. Fox owns the cable rights to Big 12 football; except for one game a year per school, which will almost always be against a rumdum opponent, ABC/ESPN and Fox own the rights to the games.
If a game is going to be on cable television, it’s going to be on Fox Sports Net, or FSN has to grant a waiver. FSN granted a waiver for the Longhorn Network.
FSN had its reasons. Sources say Fox in 2012 wants to move at least one game to big Fox — its over-the-air network, which televises the NFL and Major League Baseball. Big Fox long has been mentioned as a possible destination for Big 12 football; heck, I’ve been mentioning it myself for years. The Big 12 on Big Fox is an idea whose time has come.
But not at this cost. The indignity of OSU or Tech or Baylor or whoever having to play a game on the Longhorn Network, with UT announcers, is not good for conference morale.
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