Fox Sports 1 gambles with massive Big East basketball deal

Mike Stobe

Fox and CBS combine to throw more than 150 games on TV, but can a major college basketball conference work without ESPN?

There's been a lot of coverage of Fox Sports 1 in its opening weeks, but a move the network made last March that's largely escaped the recent hype will be a large factor in whether or not FS1 is successful.

Fox's 12-year deal to broadcast the new Big East Conference's basketball games is a huge risk for the network, just based on the volume. While FS1 also has rights to air Big 12 and Pac-12 basketball, those deals are small compared to the 108 Big East games airing on Fox Sports 1 this season. That's more games than NBC airs of the NHL and ESPN airs of the NBA each season, for a 10-team league mostly focused on small, northeastern Catholic schools.

FS1 isn't the only network buying in. As part of the deal, 12 Big East games air on Fox Sports 2 (the first significant live team sports programming on that channel), and one Ohio State-Marquette showdown will air on Fox. In addition, CBS bought in to a sub-licensing deal that allows 20 games to air between CBS and CBS Sports Network.

That's a lot of inventory for a conference that features one team that drew top 20-level ratings in the nation last season. Sure, teams like St. John's, DePaul, Villanova and Seton Hall play in (or near, in the latter's case) big television markets, but there are definitely risks involved with going all-in on this league. The additions of Butler and Creighton bank on schools that play second fiddle in the already midlevel markets of Indianapolis and Omaha.

Son of the Bronx released Fox Sports 1's ratings figures for the past week on Friday. The top-rated program? UFC Fight Night last Wednesday, with 824,000 viewers. College football? Drew audiences of 710,000 (for Boise State/Washington), 585,000, 493,000, 412,000 and 311,000. The network averaged 493,000 viewers, topping ESPNU, but well short of ESPN and ESPN2. If that's the range for the more popular college football regular season on FS1, then how much can Big East basketball reasonably expect to bring in?

Big East basketball will likely make a splash around March, when its tournament at Madison Square Garden is usually big news. Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery will call it, and it should be some of the most exciting basketball all year. But without a lot of the state/football schools, and without the mighty ESPN to push it, it may be an uphill climb for the new Big East.

2013-14 Big East TV schedule

Date/Time Matchup Network
Nov. 8, 6 p.m. ET Boston College vs. Providence FS1
Nov. 8, 8 p.m. ET Lafayette vs. Villanova FS2
Nov. 9, 4 p.m. ET Lamar vs. Butler FS2
Nov. 11, 9 p.m. ET UKMC vs. Creighton FS1
Nov. 12, 7 p.m. ET Grambling vs. Marquette FS1
Nov. 12, 9 p.m. ET Tennessee vs. Xavier FS1
Nov. 13, 7 p.m. ET Mount St. Mary's vs. Villanova CBSSN
Nov. 13, 7 p.m. ET Wright State vs. Georgetown FS1
Nov. 13, 8 p.m. ET Brown vs. Providence FS2
Nov. 15, 6 p.m. ET Wagner vs. St. John's FS2
Nov. 15, 8 p.m. ET Morehead State vs. Xavier FS2
Nov. 16, 3 p.m. ET Ohio State vs. Marquette Fox
Nov. 16, 8 p.m. ET Princeton vs. Butler FS2
Nov. 17, 5 p.m. ET Towson vs. Villanova FS1
Nov. 18, 7 p.m. ET Vermont vs. Providence FS1
Nov. 18, 8 p.m. ET Monmouth vs. Seton Hall FS2
Nov. 19, 7 p.m. ET Vanderbilt vs. Butler FS1
Nov. 19, 9 p.m. ET Bucknell vs. St. John's FS1
Nov. 20, 8 p.m. ET Miami (OH) vs. Xavier FS1
Nov. 21, 8 p.m. ET New Hampshire vs. Marquette CBSSN
Nov. 22, 8 p.m. ET Delaware vs. Villanova FS1
Nov. 25, 7 p.m. ET Abilene Christian vs. Xavier FS1
Nov. 29, 12:30 p.m. ET Fairfield vs. Providence FS1
Dec. 1, 3 p.m. ET FDU vs. Seton Hall FS1
Dec. 1, 5 p.m. ET Oregon State vs. DePaul FS1
Dec. 4, 8 p.m. ET Penn vs. Villanova FS1
Dec. 4, 7 p.m. ET LIU vs. Seton Hall FS2
Dec. 5, 8 p.m. ET High Point vs. Georgetown FS1
Dec. 6, 7 p.m. ET Arizona State vs. DePaul FS1
Dec. 7, Noon ET Colgate vs. Georgetown FS1
Dec. 7, 2 p.m. ET Bowling Green vs. Xavier FS1
Dec. 7, 6 p.m. ET North Dakota vs. Butler FS1
Dec. 8, 6 p.m. ET Nebraska vs. Creighton FS1
Dec. 9, 8 p.m. ET Manchester vs. Butler FS1
Dec. 10, 7 p.m. ET Evansville vs. Xavier FS1
Dec. 10, 9 p.m. ET NJIT vs. Seton Hall FS1
Dec. 12, 9 p.m. ET Florida Atlantic vs. DePaul FS1
Dec. 14, 3 p.m. ET IUPUI vs. Marquette FS1
Dec. 14, 8 p.m. ET Cincinnati vs. Xavier FS1
Dec. 15, Noon ET Syracuse vs. St. John's FS1
Dec. 15, 2:30 p.m. ET La Salle vs. Villanova FS1
Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. ET Chicago State vs. DePaul FS1
Dec. 17, 7 p.m. ET Elon vs. Georgetown CBSSN
Dec. 17, 7 p.m. ET Yale vs. Providence FS1
Dec. 17, 8 p.m. ET Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Creighton FS2
Dec. 18, 8 p.m. ET USF vs. St. John's FS1
Dec. 18, 9 p.m. ET Houston Baptist vs. DePaul FS2
Dec. 21, 1 p.m. ET Youngstown State vs. St. John's FS1
Dec. 21, 3 p.m. ET Eastern Washington vs. Seton Hall FS1
Dec. 21, 5 p.m. ET Rider vs. Villanova FS1
Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET Cal vs. Creighton FS1
Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ET Lafayette vs. Seton Hall FS1
Dec. 28, 1 p.m. ET FIU vs. Georgetown FS1
Dec. 28, 1 p.m. ET NJIT vs. Butler FS2
Dec. 28, 5 p.m. ET Wake Forest vs. Xavier FS1
Dec. 29, 5 p.m. ET Chicago State vs. Creighton FS1
Dec. 31, Noon ET St. John's vs. Xavier FS1
Dec. 31, 2:30 p.m. ET Seton Hall vs. Providence FS1
Dec. 31, 5 p.m. ET DePaul vs. Georgetown FS1
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Butler FS1
Dec. 31, 10 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Creighton FS1
Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Georgetown FS1
Jan. 4, 2 p.m. ET DePaul vs. Marquette CBSSN
Jan. 4, 3 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Seton Hall FS1
Jan. 5, 7 p.m. ET Providence vs. Villanova FS1
Jan. 7, 9 p.m. ET Creighton vs. DePaul FS1
Jan. 8, 7 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Seton Hall CBSSN
Jan. 8, 7 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Providence FS1
Jan. 9, 7 p.m. ET DePaul vs. Butler FS1
Jan. 9, 9 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Xavier FS1
Jan. 11, 5 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Butler FS1
Jan. 11, 7 p.m. ET Villanova vs. St. John's FS1
Jan. 12, 3 p.m. ET Xavier vs. Creighton CBSSN
Jan. 14, 7 p.m. ET St. John's vs. DePaul FS1
Jan. 14, 9 p.m. ET Butler vs. Creighton FS1
Jan. 15, 7 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Xavier CBSSN
Jan. 16, 7 p.m. ET Providence vs. St. John's FS1
Jan. 18, Noon ET Seton Hall vs. Georgetown FS1
Jan. 18, 2 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Providence FS1
Jan. 18, 2 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Butler CBSSN
Jan. 20, 7 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Villanova FS1
Jan. 20, 9 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Georgetown FS1
Jan. 21, 9 p.m. ET Butler vs. Providence FS1
Jan. 23, 7 p.m. ET Seton Hall vs. St. John's CBSSN
Jan. 25, Noon ET Xavier vs. Providence FS1
Jan. 25, 2 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Marquette FS1
Jan. 25, 6 p.m. ET DePaul vs. Seton Hall CBSSN
Jan. 25, 8 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Creighton FS1
Jan. 27, 9 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Georgetown FS1
Jan. 28, 9 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Creighton FS1
Jan. 29, 9 p.m. ET Butler vs. Seton Hall FS1
Jan. 30, 7 p.m. ET Providence vs. Marquette FS1
Feb. 1, Noon ET Seton Hall vs. Xavier CBSSN
Feb. 1, 12:30 p.m. ET Marquette vs. St. John's FS1
Feb. 1, 3 p.m. ET Michigan State vs. Georgetown FS1
Feb. 3, 7 p.m. ET Xavier vs. Villanova FS1
Feb. 3, 9 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. DePaul FS1
Feb. 4, 7 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Providence FS1
Feb. 4, 9 p.m. ET Butler vs. Marquette FS1
Feb. 7, 7 p.m. ET Seton Hall vs. Villanova FS1
Feb. 7, 9 p.m. ET DePaul vs. Creighton FS1
Feb. 8, 1 p.m. ET Butler vs. Georgetown CBS
Feb. 8, 5 p.m. ET Providence vs. Xavier FS1
Feb. 9, 7 p.m. ET Creighton vs. St. John's FS1
Feb. 10, 7 p.m. ET Providence vs. Georgetown FS1
Feb. 11, 7 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Seton Hall FS1
Feb. 11, 9 p.m. ET Xavier vs. Butler FS1
Feb. 12, 7 p.m. ET Villanova vs. DePaul FS1
Feb. 13, 7 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Butler CBSSN
Feb. 13, 9 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Seton Hall FS1
Feb. 15, 6 p.m. ET Xavier vs. Marquette FS1
Feb. 16, 5 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Creighton FS1
Feb. 16, 7 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. St. John's FS1
Feb. 18, 7 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Providence FS1
Feb. 18, 9 p.m. ET Butler vs. St. John's FS1
Feb. 19, 7 p.m. ET DePaul vs. Xavier CBSSN
Feb. 19, 8 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Marquette FS1
Feb. 20, 9 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Seton Hall CBSSN
Feb. 22, 11:30 a.m. ET Xavier vs. Georgetown FS1
Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Villanova FS1
Feb. 22, 6 p.m. ET Marquette vs. DePaul CBSSN
Feb. 23, 6 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Creighton FS1
Feb. 25, 7 p.m. ET Xavier vs. St. John's FS1
Feb. 25, 9 p.m. ET Seton Hall vs. DePaul FS1
Feb. 26, 8 p.m. ET Butler vs. Villanova FS1
Feb. 27, 9 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Marquette FS1
Feb. 28, 7 p.m. ET Providence vs. Seton Hall CBSSN
Mar. 1, 5 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Marquette FS1
Mar. 2, Noon ET DePaul vs. St. John's CBSSN
Mar. 2, 2 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Villanova CBS
Mar. 3, 7 p.m. ET Xavier vs. Seton Hall FS1
Mar. 4, 7 p.m. ET Creighton vs. Georgetown FS1
Mar. 4, 9 p.m. ET Marquette vs. Providence FS1
Mar. 6, 7 p.m. ET Butler vs. DePaul FS1
Mar. 6, 9 p.m. ET Villanova vs. Xavier FS1
Mar. 8, 1 p.m. ET Georgetown vs. Villanova FS1
Mar. 8, 3 p.m. ET St. John's vs. Marquette FS1
Mar. 8, 5 p.m. ET Seton Hall vs. Butler FS1
Mar. 8, 7:30 p.m. ET Providence vs. Creighton CBSSN
Mar. 12-14 Big East Tournament FS1
Mar. 15, 8:30 p.m. ET Big East Tournament Final FS1

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