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Early TV selections: Comparing WSU's night owl slate to the Pac-12; BTW Cougs were 5-1 last year in 7 pm or later games

THINGS COULD LOOK differently by season's end, with the bulk of the kickoff times to be decided during the season. But if the early TV selection times out this week are any indication, Cougar fans could be the night owls of the Pac-12. How does WSU compare to the rest of the Pac-12 when it comes to 7 pm or later kickoffs?

But first of all, maybe this night game thing isn't too bad if you're a Coug -- Washington State went 5-1 last year in games that kicked off at 7 pm or later. And the record moves to 6-1 if you include last season's 6:30 pm start vs. Oregon. 

Let’s look ahead to 2017:

Pac-12 teams with five game times set, number of 7 pm or later starts:

Washington State: 4
Stanford: 3
Cal: 3
Utah: 3 (Also has a 6:30 pm start).
Oregon State: 1
USC: 1
UCLA: 1 (Also has a 6:30 pm start).

Pac-12 teams with four game times set, number of 7 pm or later starts:

Washington: 1  (Also has a 6:30 pm start).

Pac-12 teams with three game times set, number of 7 pm or later starts:
Oregon: 1
Colorado: 0

Note: Arizona and ASU schedule toward home night games due to the heat. Of Arizona's four scheduled games this season, all start at 7 pm or later while ASU has two of three games scheduled for 7 pm or later.  (Full list of Pac-12 early TV selections at bottom).

It should also be noted that of WSU's four schedule night games to date, two were always going to be later starts as they're scheduled on Fridays.

THE REASON behind the hefty number of Pac-12 night games is plain: There's a whole lot of money at stake. TV networks want as large a night-time game inventory as they can get since they draw more viewers for night games. And they paid for that right, given the 12-year, $3.1 billion contract ESPN and Fox shelled out for the Pac-12 TV contract in 2011.

But that doesn't make it any easier for many fans to trek to Pullman and back for a late game.

And the TV logic -- the importance of night-game inventory and ratings -- doesn't always track. Consider last season, when USC and Washington had but two games each last season kicking off at 7 pm or later, tied for the fewest in the conference.  At last check, L.A. and Seattle were the second- and 14th-largest TV markets in the nation, respectively.

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • ESPN and Fox will broadcast a combined 44 games this season, the Pac-12 Networks will broadcast 35. 
  • Last season, WSU had six games start at 7 pm or later last season.  In 2015, the Cougs played three of those games.
  • In 2016, Cal had eight games start at 7 pm or later, WSU had six, UCLA had five and Utah had four.  USC, Stanford, UW, Oregon, Oregon State and Colorado each had two 7 pm or later starts.  ASU and Arizona had seven and 10 games start at 7 pm or later last year, respectively. Again, the two Arizona schools deliberately schedule more home night games due to the heat.
  • For what it’s worth, Mike Leach has said he doesn’t care much if it’s a night game, though his preference is for a 1-4 pm start. Leach's least favorite kickoff time? The 11 am window, which came into being last season as a new Pac-12 Network broadcast time.


THE COUGS' 2017 schedule can be found here. And here is the complete list of the 2017 Pac-12 early TV selections (the remainder will come during the season in the 12- and six-day windows).

Sat., Aug. 26
Oregon State at Colorado State 1 p.m. MT CBSSN
Stanford vs. Rice 7 p.m. PT ESPN

Thurs., Aug. 31
North Dakota at Utah 4:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
New Mexico State at ASU 7:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network

Fri., Sept. 1
Washington at Rutgers 8 p.m. ET FS1
Colorado State vs. Colorado 6 p.m. MT Pac-12 Network

Sat., Sept. 2
Cal at North Carolina 12:20 p.m. ET ESPN
Portland State at Oregon State 11 a.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Western Michigan at USC 2:15 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Southern Utah at Oregon 5:15 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Montana State at Washington State 7:30 p.m. PT FS1
Northern Arizona at Arizona 8 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network

Sun., Sept. 3
Texas A&M at UCLA 4:30 p.m. PT FOX

Sat., Sept. 9
Texas State at Colorado 12 noon MT Pac-12 Network
Nebraska at Oregon 1:30 p.m. PT FOX
Hawaii at UCLA 2 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Weber State at Cal 2 p.m. PT Pac-12 Bay Area
Montana at Washington 5 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Stanford at USC 5:30 p.m. PT FOX
Minnesota at Oregon State 7 p.m. PT FS1
Utah at BYU 8:15 p.m. MT ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Houston at Arizona 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Boise State at Washington State 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
San Diego State at ASU 8 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network

Fri., Sept. 15
Arizona at UTEP 7:15 p.m. PT ESPN

Sat., Sept. 16
UCLA at Memphis 11 a.m. CT ABC/ESPN2 mirror
Northern Colorado at Colorado 12 noon MT Pac-12 Network
Oregon State at Washington State 2:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Oregon at Wyoming 5 p.m. MT CBSSN
ASU at Texas Tech 7 p.m. CT FSN
Texas at USC 5:30 p.m. PT FOX
Fresno State at Washington 6:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Mississippi at Cal 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN
Stanford at San Diego State 7:30 p.m. PT CBSSN
San Jose State at Utah 8 p.m. MT ESPN2

Sept. 22 (Fri): Utah at Arizona, 7:30 p.m. FS1
Sept. 29 (Fri): USC at Washington State, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Oct. 13 (Fri): Washington State at Cal, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Oct. 21: USC at Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m. NBC
Oct. 26 (Thurs): Stanford at Oregon State, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Nov. 3 (Fri): UCLA at Utah 6:30 p.m. FS1
Nov. 10 (Fri): Washington at Stanford, 7:30 p.m. FS1
Nov. 24 (Fri): Cal at UCLA, 7:30 p.m. FS1


FROM THE ARCHIVES: WSU scheduling in 2015 is as good as it gets


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