Football is back baby! We made it. As we gear up for another reason from college to pro, where to catch these games is a great problem to have. In this situation, anything more than a handful is NOT a waste.

While the NFL broadcast schedule and packaging is set, college football is not as stable, very much like my love life. While the matchups are confirmed, where you can watch is another story. With the new ESPN+ launch, ESPN’s direct-to-consumer OTT subscription service at $4.99/month, they are making a big splash in the college football viewing pool.

ESPN+, ESPN 3, and ESPN Linear. What’s the difference?

Before the launch of ESPN+, you could catch a large amount of college football games across the ESPN family of networks, with quite a few available on ESPN3. Just log in with your linear provider and you were set. However, that’s not the case this year, and the broadcast format is not nearly as consistent. Game broadcasts are set only a few weeks in advance (which is nothing new), but with the introduction of ESPN+ this season, games now are now exclusive to certain platforms. ESPN+ will stream more than 20 football games during the season’s first three weeks, carrying more than a hundred exclusive games this season, including games in conferences like as the MAC, Big South, and Sun Belt.  So whoopdy do, what does it all mean, Basil?

To sum it up:

  • If the broadcast schedule says ESPN+, it’s exclusive to ESPN+
  • If the broadcast schedule says ESPN3, it’s exclusive to ESPN3.However, some ESPN3 games might be simulcast on a linear network or local broadcast network.
  • The shared piece is the ESPN app. It houses both the TV Everywhere content, where you can log in with your linear credentials, and the ESPN+ content.
  • Just because you have a linear subscription, that doesn’t mean you have access to the ESPN+ content. Remember, it’s a separate/independent pay-TV package. You’d need to get both.

Here are the matchups exclusive to ESPN+ the first three weeks of the season:

Thursday, August 30

  • Central Connecticut State @ Ball State
  • Kennesaw State @ Georgia State
  • Southeastern Louisiana @ Louisiana-Monroe

Friday, August 31

  • Monmouth @ Eastern Michigan

Saturday, September 1

  • Howard @ Ohio
  • Marshall @ Miami (OH)
  • Louisiana Tech @ South Alabama
  • South Carolina State @ Georgia Southern
  • Southeast Missouri State @ Arkansas State

Friday, September 7

  • Kansas @ Central Michigan
  • Howard @ Kent State
  • Morgan State @ Akron
  • Maryland @ Bowling Green
  • Massachusetts @ Georgia Southern
  • Florida A&M @ Troy
  • UAB @ Coastal Carolina

Friday, September 14

  • Central Michigan @ Northern Illinois
  • Southern Miss @ Appalachian State
  • Eastern Michigan @ Buffalo
  • Delaware State @ Western Michigan
  • Texas State @ South Alabama

ESPN+ Fun Facts

Besides the live games, here are some extra tidbits worth noting:

  • If you miss the beginning of a live game, you can go back and watch it from the start
  • ESPN+ allows up to five (5) streams at once
  • Blackout rules do apply; if you are in the home television territory of a team participating game, the game may blacked out. Don’t try disabling your location, because you won’t be able to access ESPN+ without it.

If you are a college football fan, the price point and decent college content is worth a try this fall. You get a free trial to test it out, too. As time goes on, more product and programming will become available on ESPN+.

About Holly Wetzel

Holly has spent the majority of her career in affiliate distribution negotiating contracts with content providers across the US. She covers the media landscape of rights fees, retransmission consent, carriage disputes, and the regional sports network business.
She's a Cleveland native and graduate of The University of Mount Union and constantly wishes she was still a student. Since that's never happening, she compensates for it over wine, cooking, sports, not working out, and any Turner Classic movie. Holly can be followed on twitter @HollyanneLiz