During our recent two-game football homestand, we have fielded many questions and comments regarding why the California and Oregon games were not on television. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the reasons why.
First of all, please let me say that we love to have our games showcased live on television as much as our fans love to see us on TV. Television provides revenue and exposure for the department and University, which helps us stay competitive in the Pacific-10 Conference with all of our sport programs.
We do everything we can to have our games on television, but sometimes we are not able to get our product on the air. The staff in the Athletic Department works very hard to get games televised, and, more often than not, we are successful. Unfortunately, the last two weeks have been instances where we were not able to get our games on TV.
There are three aspects that drive decisions relative to television opportunities in all Pacific-10 schools. These include: Pac-10 agreements, revenue, and exposure. The Pac-10 Conference has a "three-tiered" television contract with respect to selection of games that can be televised. ABC has first right of refusal to broadcast Pac-10 Conference games within its broadcast time slots.
The conference has a secondary contract with FSN and TBS, which combined provide regional and national broadcast opportunities for games throughout the season. These networks have the opportunity to select conference games that ABC has chosen not to broadcast.
ABC will televise 14 games from Pac-10 sites, while FSN will air 13 games and TBS five games to a national cable audience, giving the Pac-10 a total of 18 home games on national cable. In addition to the Pac-10 television packages, individual schools, at times, may present games on local over-the-air or cable entities.
Some of the games to be televised are selected prior to the season. The remainder of the games are selected as the season progresses with picks made either six or 12 days prior to the games.
Regarding the California game, which took place on Homecoming weekend, there were two conference opportunities for TV that week, and the networks chose Arizona State vs. USC and UCLA vs. Oregon. Please understand that the networks choose the games, we do not.
Once the national networks make their picks, we are then free to develop our local television broadcast. We can do this and air it live if kick off is after 3:15 p.m., which is outside of the ABC, FSN and TBS national broadcast windows. We had approached FSN Northwest about airing the game at 3:30 p.m. They could not fulfill this request, as they had already scheduled Washington versus Oregon State. OSU, UW, and WSU all have local broadcast agreements with FSN Northwest. Since FSN had two partners playing each other, they chose the game they did.
Since our first two options were taken, we looked into other possibilities. One was to have the Comcast Network come in and televise the game at 3:30 p.m. We would have to move the kick off to this time and only the Bay Area would have the opportunity to see the game. We did not think that this would be a good option for the majority of our fans.
The other option that we had for live television was to play at 7 p.m. We could have done this, but it was Homecoming, and it would have cancelled many of the University events planned for that day. Many people work very hard on our campus to make Homecoming a very special day for us, and we did not want to destroy all of their efforts and hard work.
Finally, if we had played at 7 p.m., we would have penalized our season ticket holders, many of whom drive over three hours to attend our events. With the game ending at around 10:30 p.m., half our fans would arrive home early Sunday morning.
We ran into similar issues with the Oct. 21 Oregon game. There were no early windows available, and a 7 p.m. kick off time was the only option accessible to us. In addition with the reason stated above on penalizing our season ticket holders with a late start time, there was an 8 p.m. event scheduled at Beasley, with which the game would have conflicted.
Next year, our new Pac-10 contracts take effect. ABC has teamed with ESPN for the Pac-10 primary rights to 20 games. This will be an increase of six conference broadcasts per year. Additionally, FSN will televise 18 games. If these contracts were in effect this year, in all likelihood a game such as Washington State versus California would have been selected for broadcast.
To conclude, I want to express my appreciation for the support our students, alumni and fans show for our program. We appreciate our fans' passion for Cougar Football, and we are thrilled to have them so passionate about us getting on TV.