Given our world’s basic governing properties of geography, time zones, and the need to maximize television ratings for football broadcasts, it maybe doesn’t seem out of the ordinary that the Washington keep playing in the late night, #Pac12AfterDark time slots.

But Chris Petersen is tired of it already, and with good reason; games that kick off after 10 PM Eastern are much less likely to be seen in their entirety by an Eastern time zone viewing audience, especially those in the audience that have been watching games all day, from noon onward. An audience that might include, say, members of the College Football Playoff committee.

Via Todd Milles of The News Tribune:

Petersen voiced his displeasure with having to start games at 7:45 p.m. the next two weeks, starting Saturday at home against California.

Because Fox Sports had the choice between the UW-Cal game and the Washington State-Oregon game, the network chose the Cougars and Ducks to fill the 5 p.m. time slot. That left ESPN grabbing the sixth-ranked Huskies returning home after back-to-back road victories over Colorado and Oregon State for their late broadcasting spot.

“So much of this and what we do comes down money,” Petersen said. “(Televsion) contracts are big. They tell us when to play.”

This seems to be a common bellyaching over the years among Pac-12 coaches whose teams have played a string of night games. It hasn’t really happened much with the Huskies during Petersen’s tenure. In his first three seasons, the UW has kicked off at 4 p.m. or earlier in 20 of its 41 games. But so far this season, the Huskies have not had a kickoff time set earlier that 5 p.m.

“We want to play at 1 o’clock,” Petersen said. “It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it.

“It is painful for our team. It’s painful for our administration. And we know certainly the most important part is (it’s painful) for our fans.”

This is a more than a fair point from Petersen! Though the Playoff has certainly helped expand opportunities for teams to get a shot at the national title (indeed, Washington was the #4 seed last year, losing to Alabama in a semifinal game), there’s still very much a human element involved. And while it’s nice to think that everyone whose opinion actual shapes the sport would go back and watch the late games they may have missed, that’s perhaps a naive expectation.

Unfortunately for Washington, being at the mercy of television rights holders is not new for the sport, and it’s probably not going away any time soon.

[News Tribune]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.

  • Bryan Smith

    Coaches need to quit whining about game start times, it is what it is. The TV networks pay a lot of money to televise games and want the best ratings and I can see them having some say over when games are played. Only a few games, such as Texas-Oklahoma or Ohio State-Michigan, have managed to stay immune from the scheduling wishes of the networks.
    I get what Peterson is saying. Yeah I’m sure playing in the afternoon West Coast time is great but the problem is you’re competing on TV against college teams the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State, etc. No win situation. At least the one thing I can say about games occurring in the evening (9 pm or later East Coast time) is the Pac-12 has little competition on TV. Most other games east of the Rockies are done or close to being done by then. And if you have a compelling late game between 2 good teams people on the East Coast will stay up to watch.

    • marcus813

      Some would stay up, myself included. Not all college football here in the Eastern Time Zone will, though. Playing late night Eastern Time is part of playing in a western-based conference and Peterson knows this from his Boise State days.

  • Parts

    Night games are a scourge upon society and must be exterminated.

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