We've talked here at Your Best 11 about Fox, the television network, attempting to elbow their way into the big-time world of national sports. Rupert Murdoch is rumored to be looking at starting up an all sports, all the time channel to compete with ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS Sports. Well, in related news the network is looking to increase their viewership on weekends by stepping up their primetime sports broadcasts. That, of course, includes college football on fall Saturdays.
In total the network is going to put twelve regular season games on their slate in primetime. That means instead of the Disney's property, ABC, dominating the broadcast college football landscape every weekend, Fox would be in direct competition.
Currently Fox is already wading in the cable waters with both Fox Sports Net, a regional network, and FX, both showing college football games. This move to the mothership is a big step. Broadcast television means more viewers, more viewers mean higher ratings and higher ratings mean more premium ad-space to sell. That all translates into more money for the network attempting to push their way into America's second favorite sport.
What does this mean for college football fans? For starters, more football. Instead of just ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports Net, FX, CBS Sports and NBC Sports, you'll get another big game on Fox. Yes, I'm assuming it will be a big game. The same way Disney-ABC-ESPN utilizes ABC to draw the biggest audiences is how Fox will be used for their properties. Put the big game on the channel that has the most possible viewers and use your satellite games to flesh out your roster of content.
To get more specific than just "more football" now, this is a big win for the Pac-12 and the Big 12. Those are the two major Fox properties and those are the schools who will have their games pushed to the new network. Instead of complaining about the SEC dominating the primetime landscape thanks to their ESPN deal, these conferences have their own outlet to get big time coverage.
The most interesting aspect of this will be watching how Disney and Fox work this out. Both the Pac-12 and the Big 12 have joint deals in which they get games broadcast by both ABC/ESPN and Fox properties. Will ESPN get first pick and Fox get second pick? Will Fox pony up some cash to steal first dibs from ESPN? Where will the conference want to lean now that Fox, which was not an option before, is in the primetime Saturday arena.
It is a win for fans and a win for the schools. Fans get more football. Schools get another avenue of exposure for their programs. That means more voters can watch. That means more recruits can watch. How the divvying up of games progresses will be something to keep your eye on. ESPN does not just have an SEC obligation; they have games promised to the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and Big East. Fox entering the space might remove some of those Pac-12 and Big 12 games from the pool, that means the Big Ten, ACC and Big East could see a bit of a bump in where their game falls on ESPN's tiered properties.