I don't need to go into the different ways that Twitter has changed the way we consume sports but one thing that is abundantly clear is that it's a sea of negativity more than anything. I'm as guilty of it as anyone. After seeing conferences like the Atlantic Sun come up with some creative ways to get better officiating and television packages by playing on "off nights" it was only natural for me to scream at the Big South and ask why they aren't doing the same!
The complaint from Southern Conference fans has always seemed to be the lack of a any sort of digital network to stream games. Individual schools would have live streaming but there was no conference network like we see from so many other conferences around the nation. It was abundantly apparent on social media that this was a key frustration among SoCon fans.
I don't know if Twitter or social media is the number one driver of this but it seems like this summer the conferences listened to the fans! First the Big South announced that they would explore tweaking the basketball schedule so some conference games were not just on Wednesday and Saturdays, the two most active nights in college hoops. This gives the conference an opportunity to get more experienced officials and can open the doors to more televised games.
The SoCon was also listened as they just announced the creation of the SoCon Digital Network this week. In a release from the conference the SoCon stated they've invested over $2 million in video and audio equipment alone for it's member institutions. Many conferences charge for their digital network but, like the Big South Network, the SoCon Digital Network will be free for all fans.
The news doesn't stop there with both conferences as last week it was announced that both conferences along with Conference USA, the CAA, and the Patriot League have come into an agreement with the American Sports Network. The ASN is not a standalone network but an agreement with the Sinclair Broadcast Group where games from these conferences will be shown throughout Sinclair affiliates. (You can get a map of those affiliate here)
In the Big South ASN will air a minimum of seven men's basketball games and the package seems to be similar in the SoCon.
Kudos to both of these conferences this summer and the moves that they have made. The Atlantic Sun has seemed to be the leader when it comes to digital and social media in this geographic footprint but the Big South and SoCon have seemingly woken up. The most interesting thing is if either one of these conferences took just one ASun team away it could effectively mean the end of the ASun altogether.