UPDATE: The Big 5 schedule at the bottom of the post has been corrected. Apologies for the initial error.
The Atlantic 10 announced Tuesday morning that it has signed an extensive set of television broadcast deals with ESPN, CBS and NBC. They will all start in the 2013-14 season and run through the 2020-2021 season.
Among the highlights is the fact that the men's and women's conference tournaments will be broadcast nationally from the quarterfinals on, instead of the semifinals. But there won't be any more games on over-the-air network television as has been the case in recent years with CBS.
Let's start with ESPN, which will regain the rights to the men's and women's basketball tournament championship games. Bristol will get 14 regular-season men's games and two regular-season women's games each season to spread across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
All of those games will also be streamed online via ESPN's various digital platforms and apps.
Regarding the basketball tournament title games, ESPN's release notes something that the Atlantic 10 office's release does not. The women's tournament final will be on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, and the men's tournament final will be on ESPN, ESPN2 or "via sublicense."
That clause about sublicensing is significant. According to the A-10's release, the men's tournament championship game has technically been sublicensed to CBS as part of the current deal that has been in place since 2010.
A spokesperson for ESPN told me that the network is looking at options to sublicense the game again, but hasn't decided yet whether to do so or to where.
CBS gets 25 regular season men's basketball games and eight regular season women's basketball games each year, plus the men's and women's basketball tournament semifinals. All of those games will air on the CBS Sports Network.
NBC gets 25 regular season men's basketball games and six regular season women's basketball games each year, plus the men's and women's basketball tournament quarterfinals. All of those games will air on the NBC Sports Network.
As a welcoming present, the Peacock will also get six men's basketball games this coming season, including one non-conference game and five conference games. All of those games are contests that were previously scheduled to air as part of the Atlantic 10's regional syndication package.
Three of those six games include local teams, leading off with Lehigh at Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday, January 5. The Big 5 and the Palestra will get national exposure on Saturday, January 16, when Saint Joseph's and La Salle square off on 33rd Street; and the Explorers will be featured again on Saturday, March 9 when they travel to Saint Louis.
Here's the full slate:
Saturday, January 5: Lehigh at Virginia Commonwealth, 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 12: Butler at Dayton, 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, Febuary 2: Dayton at Saint Louis, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 16: Saint Joseph's vs. La Salle at the Palestra, 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 7: Butler at Massachusetts, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9: La Salle at Saint Louis, 1:30 p.m.
The three-way division of conference basketball tournament rights means that there will be a different TV channel televising each of the three days of action. Remember that the men's tournament heads to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., starting this season, with all 12 teams making the trip.
That's a departure from the last few years, when the first round was played on campus and the quarterfinals and subsequent rounds were played at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The women's tournament championship game will also be played at the Barclays Center. The three previous rounds will take place at Hagan Arena on the Saint Joseph's campus here in Philadelphia.
In addition to its national broadcasts, NBC also gets the rights to what the Atlantic 10 office calls "additional commitments through NBC Sports Network's Regional Sports Networks."
What that means isn't entirely clear yet. From the people I've talked to, it sounds like NBC might be taking over the production of regional syndication broadcasts from CBS, but the details haven't all been worked out yet.
At the very least, don't be surprised if you see NBC/Comcast graphic sets on those games instead of CBS graphic sets when the deal kicks in.
I'll post more details when I have them. All in all, it seems that once this deal kicks in, it's going to be a lot easier to watch our local A-10 teams on TV than it has been.
Given the news that the St. Joe's-La Salle game has been bumped up to national TV, I thought it would be a good idea to put together the full City Series slate for the coming season. As of now, eight of the 10 games will nationally televised. No matter which team you root for, that's a great thing for the Big 5.
I wrote yesterday that Penn at La Salle will be on CBS Sports Network. That was incorrect. Apologies.
Sunday, November 25: Villanova at La Salle, 1:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Wednesday, December 5: Temple at Villanova, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, December 8: Villanova at Penn, 8:00 p.m. (no TV as of now*)
Tuesday, December 11: Saint Joseph's at Villanova, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Saturday, January 5: Penn at La Salle, 2:00 p.m. (no TV as of now)
Saturday, January 19: Penn vs. Saint Joseph's at the Palestra (ESPN2 or ESPNU)
Wednesday, January 23: Penn at Temple, 7:00 p.m. (no TV as of now)
Saturday, February 2: Temple at Saint Joseph's (CBS Sports Network)
Saturday, February 16: Saint Joseph's vs. La Salle at the Palestra (NBC Sports Network)
Thursday, February 21: Temple at La Salle (CBS Sports Network)
* - I don't know anything for certain, but given Penn's past history of getting this game televised, I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen again this season. We'll see.
It's worth noting that NBC now has significant rights deals with three of the four conferences that have teams in Philadelphia: the Atlantic 10, the Colonial Athletic Association and the Ivy League. Given the passion for basketball in the Philadelphia market, it wouldn't surprise me if we see the Peacock come through town a lot in the next few years.