Friday, May 30, 2014

Notes on Partial Pac-12 TV Schedule

Pac-12 Controlled TV Schedule
My Google Docs Spreadsheet

* As I alluded to last night, Michigan St. at Oregon airing on FOX, to me, is a bit of a surprise.  The other unique item about the game is the 6:30pm ET start, the only evening FOX broadcast network game not starting at 7:30pm.  ABC does not have a primetime game on September 6th due to a NASCAR race and ESPN is airing the Virginia Tech-Ohio St. game at 8pm.   I don't know if it was to capture the audience coming out of the mid-afternoon games and hold them, but if the start was by design, fair play to them.

* FOX's broadcast network used up four of its required eight Pac-12 selections and two of the four required primetime game.  With that said, remember that FOX did not air enough primetime games last year, but FOX now has flexibility with their MLB postseason schedule to place Division Series & League Championship Series games on FOX Sports 1, so each telecast window on the broadcast network is Pac-12 "friendly".  They aren't locked out of a particular timeslot.  Overall, FOX has used nine of their 22 selections.

The FOX Sports 1 schedule has up to four available late evening windows for the conference to fill, one less than 2013.  If FOX just sticks to the minimum on their broadcast network, and it has more windows (18) than the required minimums combined for the Big 12 (6) and Pac-12 (8), FS1 should have at least nine games in the early/mid-afternoon Pacific Time Zone windows.

* ABC has two Pac-12 games selected already, but still needs to pick up a game to air in primetime.  ESPN used seven of their selections, so they will have fifteen selections available throughout the rest of the year.

* The early Pac-12 Networks schedule again looks...weak, though I'm not sure it will look a lot different than what you see when BTN's early season schedule come out.  A lot of games vs. FCS schools.  Comparatively speaking, this is the first year FOX's cable nets (FX or FS1) were not stuck with a Pac-12 vs. FCS game.  This is really a function of the way the conference or TV partners desire to stack the early season with mostly non-conference games, then slide into nearly 100% conference games from late September through November.

Still not a fan of slotting games into three hour windows like the network did on September 13th to air four games nationally.  Yes there is streaming and the complimentary regional networks in many areas out west, but I've never warmed up to it.

The other item I noticed is that the Pac-12 Networks didn't announce any other in season selections beyond week three.  The two prior seasons they had a choice or two selected after week three, presumably because they had the top choice in a particular week with a game they really wanted.

* USC and Colorado were the two schools that did not have an early season game selected by Pac-12 Networks.  Pac-12 TV rules dictate that a school cannot appear more than nine times in the 44 games held by FOX and ESPN.  By my count, both Colorado & USC will have two games on Pac-12 Networks at some point during the season.  Both of USC's games will likely be against Pac-12 opponents as their remaining non-conference game is Notre Dame.

* My assumption is that FOX knows their MLB postseason schedule and was comfortable about the selection of Utah at Oregon St. on October 16th and that it would not conflict with any MLB postseason games that FS1 would air.

* Each network gets to use two priority picks during the year.  I'm not sure if they have to claim them in advance of the season, but it seems likely since both ESPN and FOX in prior years have set aside late season games involving Notre Dame.  Let's assume for the moment that Michigan St. at Oregon was a priority pick for FOX.  The two games involving Notre Dame might be priority picks (at Arizona St., at USC).  That would leave a fourth "priority pick" out there, assuming there are no parameters about the type of game the priority picks must use (non-conference vs. intraconference).  Maybe Oregon at Stanford or Oregon at UCLA?

* The slightly later start for the Pac-12 Championship game has to be a nod to the previous two games that aired on FOX which started at 5pm local time.  6pm isn't much better, especially for a Friday game, but it allows local travellers an extra hour.

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