Another week, two more examples of a national television outlet disrespecting the Pac-12 Conference. Except … that’s not what happened.
Well, it sure felt like Fox disrespected Utah and UCLA by punting the first part of their game from Fox Sports 1 to Fox Sports 2 to finish airing a freakin’ truck race. Or maybe my judgment is colored by how little I care about a freakin’ truck race.
But there are contracts, and with sports TV the policy is to finish what you started.
Yes, Fox Sports aired the majority of the Stanford-Washington State game on the Fox Business Network, shoving it aside in favor of a Big Ten game. But it wasn’t Fox’s fault, and FBN was the best option. Really.
Although I, too, didn’t know where to find FBN on DirecTV or Comcast. And I do this for a living. (Nope. Not a big Fox Business Network viewer here.)
The Stanford-WSU game was scheduled to air on the Fox broadcast network. There’s no bigger platform in American TV; Fox is available in virtually all of the 119.6 million homes that, according to Nielsen, have at least one television.
But a big lightning storm in East Lansing, Mich., messed that up. The Penn State-Michigan State game went into a weather delay that lasted nearly 3½ hours. Which left Fox Sports without any options that would please everyone.
Fox began simulcasting the Texas Tech-Kansas State game that was airing on Fox Sports 1. When the Stanford-WSU game kicked off, Fox started that game as scheduled.
But when MSU-PSU resumed, the Fox broadcast network returned to that game, and Stanford-WSU (midway through the second quarter) was switched over the the Fox Business Network (except for the Fox affiliates in northern California and eastern Washington). And that was a far less crazy solution than it might seem.
FS1 was airing Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, so it wasn’t an option. Fox could have switched Stanford-WSU to Fox Sports 2, but the location of that channel is probably just as unfamiliar to most sports fans as the Fox Business Network.
And FBN is available in about 85 million homes, considerably more than FS2 (52 million).
Yes, both games featured matchups of ranked teams — Stanford was No. 21; Washington State was No. 25; Penn State was No. 7; Michigan State was No. 24. Yes, the Cardinal-Cougars game was important in the Pac-12 North. But the Spartans-Nittany Lions game was, perhaps, even more important to the Big Ten East.
If I was running Fox Sports, I would have done the same thing. Not because I’m pro-Big Ten or anti-Pac-12, because the Big Ten gets better TV ratings than the Pac-12. And the job of the folks running Fox Sports is to maximize ratings — and profits.
It’s good ol’ American free enterprise. It’s not a plot against the Pac-12.
If you think it is, you must be under the impression that Mother Nature hates the Pac-12, because this was her fault.
This is hardly something new. Broadcast networks and cable channels have been scheduling games so close to each other that as often as not (it seems), one game isn’t over before the next game is scheduled to start.
In September, a Michigan-Purdue game kicked off on FBN because an MLB game ran long on Fox. Not that big a deal.
It didn’t turn out to be a huge deal that the first few minutes the Utah-UCLA game aired on FS2 on Friday, or that the first few minutes of the BYU-Fresno State game aired on ESPNews on Saturday because the UCF-SMU game ran a bit long on ESPN2.
That wouldn’t have been a big deal even if BYU wasn’t in the midst of its worst season since 1970.