The Big 12 Network finally joins the large number of sports syndication productions that are closing their doors.
This was the final season that men’s baskeball games would be broadcast on the conference’s syndication service. Syndication was a part of Big 12 basketball all the way back in the Big Eight days during the 1980’s. This year’s Big 12 tournament semifinals would be the final broadcasts with the service.
What will be happening with all the Big 12 games? Well, the Big 12 Network was already an ESPN entity, formerly known as ESPN Plus before the four-letter company decided to rebrand each conference with its own name. Games will just move to the Bristol company’s suite of networks.
Starting next year, all Big 12 basketball games will be broadcast on an ESPN platform. Essentially, that means the 32 games that weren’t shown on an ESPN network or any other network this season, will move to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNews.
The ESPN family of networks already shows a lot of college basketball, so where can they find the room for all of these Big 12 games? With the Big East getting covered exclusively by FOX Sports 1 and CBS Sports Network, that opened up a lot of room that wasn’t seen because ESPN replaced those with other games from smaller conferences.
Obviously, with the Big 12 being regarded as one of the best conferences in college basketball, they’ll take the bulk of air time on the main networks while other conferences will be moved. Expect ESPNews to cover many more games next season, essentially becoming just another network to watch games on during Saturdays and busy weeknights.
I wouldn’t expect to see much Big 12 on ESPNews, however. While doubleheaders won’t be found on local affiliates anymore, expect more doubleheaders on ESPN or ESPN2. There’s also a chance that the entire conference tournament could be on a main ESPN network beginning next year, which will avoid the clusterf— that was this season’s tournament broadcast schedule.
Finally, people that don’t understand what the Big 12 Network and syndication is won’t bitch about how the conference semifinals are blacked out where they live, when they’re simply on one of their local affiliates. It doesn’t take much to look at TV listings or read my various posts on the broadcast schedule.
The days of sports syndication will soon be over, and those of us used to watching doubleheaders on channel 5 in the Ames and Des Moines areas in Iowa will miss the tradition.
It’s tough for fans that have given up on subscribing to cable or satellite. They’re essentially screwed from being able to watch live Big 12 games beginning next year, but ESPN prefers it because they get more money. The Big 12 also prefers it because they’ll get more money out of the deal.
Rest in peace, Big 12 Network.