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Volume 25 No. 175
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Pac-12 Title Game's Friday Timeslot Helps Networks, Hurts Conference

Washington and Utah will play for the Pac-12 Championship on Friday, but the 5:00pm PT kickoff on Fox from Levi's Stadium is "clearly a poor combination of time and place for fans," according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. However, putting the Pac-12 game on Friday night "makes loads of sense for the network partners because it’s a competition-free window and alleviates the glut of games on Saturday." The viewership evidence "favors Friday over Saturday ... and Fox over ESPN." The Pac-12 long ago "handed full control of its premium football programming to Fox and ESPN in a pure-and-simple, campus-directed cash grab." Playing the championship game on Friday just "makes more sense for the networks doling out that cash." One drawback is that playing on Friday makes the conference "look second-rate because the other Power Five championships are on Saturday" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 11/28).

PAC 12 TITLE GAME VIEWERSHIP TREND
YEAR
GAME
NETWORK
DATE
VIEWERSHIP
2017
USC-Stanford
ESPN
Friday
3.7 million
2016
Washington-Colorado
Fox
Friday
5.7 million
2015
Stanford-USC
ESPN
Saturday
2.6 million
2014
Oregon-Arizona
Fox
Friday
6.0 million
2013
Stanford-Arizona State
ESPN
Saturday
1.45 million
2012
Stanford-UCLA
Fox
Friday
4.9 million
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Pac 12 Title Viewership

THE LONG BATTLE: In Portland, John Canzano as part of his week-long look at the Pac-12 writes the single "most frustrating element" of conference Commissioner Larry Scott's tenure for some fans is his "failure to get the Pac-12 Networks on DirecTV." Scott said, "I wish we had DirecTV. I don't know what we could have done differently. We went to them first, before Dish, before anybody else, and they weren't interested." Canzano cites sources as saying that Scott "could have, and should have, got a distribution deal done with DirecTV." Scott "locked up cable companies early." He then engaged DirecTV in a standoff that a source called "a staring contest." DirecTV "needed rates that wouldn't be costly to subscribers who were not interested in the Pac-12 Network" Trouble is, discount provisions in the contracts Scott "negotiated with the cable companies and Dish Network would kick in if he discounted the rates for DirecTV." That would have meant trying to "unwind the contracts and give money back." A source said, "The thinking was that Pac-12 fans would raise so much noise that DirecTV would eventually have to agree to a deal. I think Larry overestimated how rabid the Pac-12 fan would be about calling DirecTV to raise hell." Meanwhile, AT&T announced this week that its U-Verse service would "no longer carry the Pac-12 Networks." It drops the total number of "estimated households the network can reach to 17.5 million." Big Ten Network and SEC Network both are in approximately 60 million homes (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/30).