The Pac-12 has made it no secret it has a desire to rework the scheduling of games with television partners. Too many games on in primetime or on different nights has been a bit more of a problem for the conference than perhaps initially expected, and with other scheduling commitments for TV partners to fulfill, the Pac-12 has been buried under other programming options at times. As the summer meetings came to a close, the Pac-12 announced a decision to use a new, earlier TV window for games starting this fall.
The Pac-12 will begin scheduling some games for a kickoff at 11 a.m. PT, or 2 p.m. ET with the intent of cutting down on primetime games for the West Coast conference.
“This is a positive step for Pac-12 fans across the Conference,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in a statement released by the conference Sunday. “There has been an adjustment over the last two years with our new television agreement, and we believe fans – both in our stadiums and in the television audience – will benefit.”
Having games begin in the middle of the afternoon on the East Coast may seem like a good move for the Pac-12, but it is a plan that could still be presented with some concerns in the fall. The competition earlier in the day for broadcast time will still be crowded for the Pac-12 to try to wiggle in. The ACC, Big Ten and SEC all have games that start kicking off at noon on just about every Saturday in the fall (not to mention the AAC, MAC and Conference USA), and a second slate of games kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Pac-12 is going to have to have some must-see games kicking off in the 2 p.m. ET hour in order to sway many fans away from the available options already based in the East, and for many fans that is going to be a difficult transition to make.
There is still a benefit to scheduling games later for the Pac-12 in terms of total viewers the conference will receive. Not all games have to be scheduled for 10 p.m. ET kickoffs, but keeping some of the more high-profile games scheduled for East Coast prime time hours would still be the best option for the Pac-12.