SBD/November 9, 2012/Media

Pac-12's TV Flex Plan Options Frustrating Some With Late Game-Time Annoucements

Washington has played four home games at night, compared with just two in '11
Disgruntled Pac-12 fans are being "left waiting until a week or two before the game to find out when kickoff will come, a wait necessitated by the Pac-12's contract with its TV networks," according to Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. The networks "want the flexibility to get the best games in spots they think will be the most watched." The Univ. of Washington football team has played night games "more often than not." Of UW's six home games, four have started at 6:00pm PT or later, including this Saturday's 7:30pm game against Utah, which "wasn't announced until Sunday." By contrast, UW played "just two night games" in '11. UW season-ticket holder Stephen Nute said, "It just feels like we are being held captive to the whims of the network and it's all about the network and TV revenues." UW officials have "heard similar complaints and say they sympathize." But school officials said that they "hope fans understand the benefits from the increasing number of flexible start times and more night games." The benefits are "coming, in part, from the Pac-12's new TV contract, a 12-year deal that went into effect this year." With an estimated $3B distributed evenly to schools over the life of the deal, added benefits "include a significant increase in revenue ... plus added exposure." UW AD Scott Woodward said of the night games, "Our preference is not to play that many" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/9).

MONEY TALKS: In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes of the late announcement for UW's game time, "I waited nervously last Sunday, waiting to discover the kickoff time for Saturday's football game." This is "college athletics' new world order." Every conference is "chasing the television money," and "every conference is willing to trade tradition for gold." Delayed announcements mean that football fans "can't make plans for the upcoming weekend until six days before kickoff." Kelly: "It isn't fair, but that's the way it is and the way it's going to remain" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/9). In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes, "I like the direction of the Pac-12 Conference. ... I don't, however, like finding out the start time of a game just six days before kickoff." Boivin: "Not surprisingly, it's a television thing." Under the terms of the Pac-12's TV contract, ESPN and Fox are "allowed a select number of times during the season to exercise a six-day selection option." Boivin: "We're all smart enough to know television makes the sports world go 'round these days. We'll stay up late and wake up early if that means watching a college football game that interests us. But don't you have to draw the line somewhere?" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/9).
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