UPDATE (4:35pm Central): The Big East games mentioned in this article now reflect that they are being broadcast on FS1 and Fox. Shoutouts to Andy Glockner, Richard Deitsch, and especially David Pean for their parts in making this happen. While it appears that this was nothing more than a third party vendor snafu that was omitting Big East game information in this instance as well as in the past, that missing information ultimately reflected the perception held by many Big East fans that ESPN holds a bias against the Big East. Perception does not have to be reality, and we look forward to not having to be wrong in the future.
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Back in February of 2013, Marquette and the other members of the Catholic Seven announced their intention to decouple from the remaining football playing members of the Big East. Along with that decision came a shiny new television deal with Fox Sports that pays the 10 members of the Big East a great deal more money than they were making under the old TV deal with ESPN.
It turns out that ESPN decided to get snooty about the current incarnation of the Big East spurning them and their money, which is hilarious since it's their money that caused Pitt, Syracuse, and Louisville to leave for the ACC in the first place. Ever since the new Big East got started, the more conspiracy theory minded amongst us have been able to notice what would seem to be a bias against the Big East coming from Bristol. Generally speaking, a lot of these kind of things can be attributed to ESPN making editorial decisions to focus on the conferences that they have partnerships with, but that's really not how you should be running a news division.
That brings us to today. Each week, we have an open thread on Saturdays once college football dies down for the wealth of college basketball action. Part of that open thread is a table listing all of the games with a national broadcast for the day because we're trying to make your lives simpler by providing the information for you. Part of the process of assembling that table is looking at a schedule for the day, and the schedule I prefer to use is ESPN's. Here's an example of what a scorebox looks like on ESPN.com:
Both teams, both logos, start time, the TV network in the upper right corner. Simple, easy to read, exactly what I need to put the table together.
Except here's what it looks like for Xavier-Auburn, which will be broadcast on FS1:
And Wichita State-Seton Hall, which gets the shot on FOX:
And DePaul-Northwestern, back on FS1:
Huh. Well, I suppose that could just be chalked up to ESPN not wanting to advertise television time for a rival broadcaster....
Well then. Ok, so this is definitely looking like ESPN has some sort of vendetta against upstart Fox for openly challenging their throne atop the sports broadcasting world....
ESPN is happy to advertise for FS1 as long as it involves teams from conferences that they already have an broadcasting arrangement with, but when it comes to informing their readers/consumers about how to watch the Big East? NO CHANCE IN HELL. They're willing to snub the Big Ten, the Missouri Valley Conference, and the SEC in order to take a poke at the Big East. The SEC one is the most fascinating, since ESPN's TV arrangement with that league includes a completely separate solo branded network.
The bias is real.