SBD/October 18, 2013/Media

Fox Sports Using Pac-12 To Bring FS1 Viewers, But Broadcast Net Needs Games Too

Fox Sports moved the much-hyped Oregon-Washington game to FS1
Fox Sports is "in danger of not meeting its contractual obligation to broadcast eight Pac-12 games" on the Fox network after moving several games to FS1, according to Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. There have been three games broadcast on Fox "thus far, and Stanford-UCLA will count as a fourth" though it will air on ABC or ESPN2 on Saturday. However, there "aren’t many Saturdays left, especially when you consider" Fox is scheduled to broadcast a World Series game on Oct. 26. So "regardless of FS1 ratings or other potential programming options, Fox Sports must show at least two games" on Fox "during the first three Saturdays in November." Fox Sports since the first week of the season has "repeatedly declined to show Pac-12 games" on Fox. It "owned the rights to Oregon-Washington and could have put the game" on Fox. Instead, it selected unranked Kansas State-Baylor "for the over-the-air network and moved" Oregon-Washington to FS1. The decision to show Kansas State-Baylor on Fox and move Oregon-Washington to FS1 was "entirely about ratings and buzz." FS1 is "struggling to gain a foothold with prime-time viewers" and college football "attracts a desired number of eyeballs." As a result, the sport is "being used to prop up the overall ratings and create interest in other FS1 programming." There is a "difference of 20 million homes" between FS1 and Fox -- "a bad trade for the Pac-12." The conference "simply cannot go through another season with so many night games on FS1" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 10/17).

PACIFIC COASTING: FS1 is averaging 445,000 viewers for its 26 college football telecasts to date, which has consisted of a mix of Thursday night and Saturday games for the Pac-12, Big 12 and Conference USA. Through the same point last season, FX was averaging 728,000 viewers for smaller schedule of Saturday-only telecasts. FS1’s nine Pac-12 telecasts this season have averaged 643,000 viewers. That figure was boosted by last Saturday’s Oregon-Washington game, which drew 1.8 million viewers. The top college football game on FX last season was Baylor-West Virginia with 1.3 million viewers. Meanwhile, Fox is seeing a sharp drop for its college football games. The net is averaging 2.3 million viewers for six games to date, down from 3.8 million viewers through the same point last season (nine telecasts) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

NOT PULLING THEIR WEIGHT? In Portland, Ken Goe writes under the header, "In A Saturated Market, Maybe The Pac-12 Networks Are Too Much." OU and Oregon State made "zero" money from the Pac-12 Networks last year, and OU "isn't projecting any revenue from the Pac-12 Networks for the current fiscal year, either." OSU AD Bob De Carolis said that the school netted about $15M in Pac-12 television money "in the last fiscal year," up from about $6M the year before. If the conference revenue is going to climb past $20M, the Pac-12 Networks are "going to have to pull their weight." When that will happen is "anybody's guess" (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/17).
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