ESPN rolled out its annual press release detailing the network’s college basketball coverage for 2017/2018, and as always, the volume is staggering.
From November 10th through March 4th, across the ESPN family of networks (including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, the SEC Network, and (lol) the Longhorn Network), there are only five days without a college basketball game. That’s a shocking amount of inventory, especially considering college football’s bowl season (essentially run by ESPN) coincides with December and early January. ESPN also has NFL and NBA packages throughout most or all of the college basketball season.
It’s almost enough to make one wonder what ESPN does the rest of the year, when it doesn’t have this variety of programming to anchor its schedule. College basketball’s strength, though, at least from the eyes of networks, is its quantity and ubiquity. Live games are still golden, and unlike football, college basketball schedules big contests on both weeknights and weekends, while also having room for plenty of made-for-television preseason tournaments and marquee matchups. (Including ESPN’s brainchild, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, now entering its 19th year.)
So, what’s happening on those five days to preclude any college basketball coverage?
Let’s find out.
Saturday, November 11th
The second day of the college basketball season also coincides with a late-season college football Saturday, which likely takes precedence for ESPN, especially considering ESPNU’s role in covering both sports. There are still ESPN3 broadcasts available, however.
Wednesday, November 15th
Again, college football takes precedence; ESPN2 and ESPNU are committed to some MACtion that night. There are once again games available on ESPN3.
Friday, December 15th
A mystery day! There’s an NBA double-header in the evening on ESPN, and the slate of college basketball matchups isn’t that appealing, but college bowls don’t kick off until the 16th. Unlike the first two days, there’s not even a college basketball game scheduled for ESPN3, making this a true outlier.
Tuesday, December 26th
This is an easy one: there aren’t any games scheduled across all of college basketball.
Monday, January 8th
And another easy one, as ESPN goes all out across multiple networks for coverage of the College Football Playoff Championship Game, blocking out any evening basketball contests. The major conferences are seemingly also aware of this, as there’s no Power 5 college basketball on the schedule that night.
And that’s it! Through the start of conference tournaments in early March, those are the five days without college basketball on ESPN’s family of networks. Two days feature ESPN3 streaming games, another day features no college basketball being played anywhere, and another coincides with the biggest college football game of the season.
The volume really is staggering.