Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thoughts on the Pac-12 Networks and Late Morning Start Times

If you saw my Twitter timeline later on Sunday, most of this is repetitive, but there is newer stuff here.

The Pac-12 announced Sunday that they would be scheduling a 11am PT / noon MT football telecast window for the Pac-12 Networks this year.  Here's a few thoughts on it:

* I have a feeling that schools will have the flexibility to choose the 11am window if they don't want a night game.  This change is only for the Pac-12 Networks per the release.   ESPN and FOX Sports 1 will continue to have evening kickoffs out west.  This doesn't eliminate the Pac-12 Networks carrying them as there are three Saturday games on Pac-12 Networks airing at 7pm PT or later during the first three weeks of 2014.     For example, the Arizona schools have typically asked for night games early in the year due to heat issues if a game is not on broadcast TV.  I'd expect those schools to continue with night games.

In case you were wondering, in 2012, fifteen Pac-12 Networks games on Saturdays started at 9:45 pm ET or later.  In 2013, eleven Saturday games started at 9:30pm ET or later.

* Starting games at 11am local time is nothing new for most central time zone schools.  ESPN and FOX typically start their scheduling with noon eastern as the base.  Doesn't mean that the fans will like it.  To paraphrase Bryan Fischer, the complaints about the evening games have turned into pre-noon kickoffs for most of the conference.  If you go back to 2012, you'll see that the Pac-12 had three games on F/X in November that started at either 11:30am or noon local time.  Colorado periodically had 10am & 11:30am local starts on FSN or ABC going back to the Big 12 as the outlier with all the other Big 12 schools one time zone to the east.

* Per the Pac-12, any lead-in games to the exclusive primetime window for FOX and ABC must be completed before the broadcast network window starts.  If the number of night games are truly going to decrease, this would lead one to believe that Pac-12 Networks will have multiple games at the same time, assuming a school prefers to play a day game vs. a night game and that a particular week has a broadcast network TV window.  It doesn't appear that the conference will be allowed to do back-to-back games at 11am PT and 2pm/2:30pm PT if there is a broadcast network game at 4pm or 5pm PT.  The conference talked about using the regional nature of the Pac-12 Networks to schedule games concurrently.

* I thought this would be a decent move for the conference because it allows more of the conference's games to be available earlier in the day, particularly for eastern viewers or for the conference to tell providers who are balking at taking the channel that they'll have games available at times that are friendlier to the entire country.  Maybe that's shortsighted though as the conference will now be competing with other eastern conferences.

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