UK administrators got a hard time from pundits (myself included) when they moved the U of L rivalry to Game 3 several years back, and the game was relegated to being carried on ESPN Classic.
As it turns out, ESPN Classic has a wider reach (about 60 million households) than the ABC coverage the teams will have this weekend.
ABC has released its coverage map of the game, and it will be seen in only about 18 percent of the nation — shown on the map above in green — as part of a three-game regional package (maybe 25 million households at the most).
Almost half the nation will receive Connecticut’s game at Michigan (seen on the map above in yellow). And 34 percent, including almost everyone west of the Mississippi (excluding parts of Arkansas and Louisiana) will get UCLA’s game at Kansas State.
The UK-U of L game will be seen only in the southeast, and won’t even be shown in most of the state of Florida. The big Florida markets of Miami, Tampa and Orlando will get the Michigan broadcast.
The bottom line? The ABCs of television mean that a network game no longer equals the biggest audience, though we’ll have to see the actual viewership numbers before passing a final judgment on the exposure of Saturday’s game.