New network means bright future for AU, Patriot League
Ben Florance | 1/13/14 11:56am
It is easy to identify why the major conferences are on a much bigger level than the mid-major conferences, such as the Patriot League.
As sports television rights have become significantly more valuable due to the heightened competition between Fox, NBC, CBS and ESPN, the major conferences have been able to pull in some serious green.
Thanks to these national deals, as well as some conferences having either their own network (Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC starting in 2014, even the University of Texas) or a syndication deal, the top conferences get maximum exposure around the country.
Smaller conferences like the Patriot League do not get anywhere near that level of exposure because they do not have the leverage with networks as the demand is not there. Therefore, the Patriot League has to settle for a small deal with CBS Sports Network (12 men’s games, two women’s games, none featuring AU).
They also have the individual schools work out deals to get games on local television, like the Eagles do with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic with four men’s games being on CSN+ this season. The remaining games go untelevised locally, which is why the development of the Patriot League Network is crucial.
In conjunction with the collegiate sports website Campus Insiders, which has similar deals with the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and the West Coast Conferences, the Patriot League Network is an online streaming service that will see around 700 live events aired for free during the 2013-14 school year.
As per the debut press release from the conference in August, more than half of conference games of the fall team sports will be broadcasted. Previously, the schools generally had their own streaming services, such as AU with EagleVision, which charged a fee to the viewer.
Now that these events will be broadcasted at no cost to the viewer, and often with higher quality than what the schools were able to do on their own, it gives schools like AU a new way to draw recruits and promote the league brand beyond the local regions for each school.
Additionally, because each event will be available on tablets and mobile devices, fans are able to tune in when they are neither near a television nor a computer screen.
For a conference like the Patriot League, this is one of the best ways for the conference to continue to grow and expand into the future and for schools like AU to extend their reach.