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Sorry East Coasters: some Pac-12 football (and basketball?) games may only be carried regionally


Yesterday the Pac-12 released the schedule for the first four/five weekends of the football season with kickoff times. Stanford fans will be happy to note that all four of their first four games will be aired live on television, with the USC game airing on the Fox Network (as in the big channel Fox) at 4:30PM PST. The Notre Dame game, since it is happening in South Bend this year, will be aired on NBC at 12:30PM PST on October 13th.

The other big change is that Stanford now plays San Jose State on Friday, August 31 at 7PM. This will mark the first time that the stadium has been used for a Friday night football game (2008 featured a Thursday night Oregon State opener).

Stanford's schedule for its first four games is as follows:

vs. San Jose State -- Friday, August 31, 7PM PST, Pac-12 Network
vs. Duke -- Saturday, September 8, 7:30PM PST, Pac-12 Network
vs. USC -- Saturday, September 15, 4:30PM PST, Fox
@ Washington -- Thursday, September 27, 6PM PST, ESPN

While it's nice to know that all of these games will be televised, the devil is in the details, and it's not good news for those of you outside of the Bay Area.

Remember all the hoopla surrounding the news of the birth of the Pac-12 Networks? How every football and men's basketball game would be made available to everyone around the country? That's still true today, but the schedule release featured some interesting news: several games would be happening concurrently that would air on the Pac-12 Network.

How could this happen? How is the Pac-12 going to show all games nationally on ESPN, Fox, and the Pac-12 Network if there are games happening at the same time scheduled for the same channel?

Fret not, says the Pac-12. Since there are more games than there are spots available for airing, especially during the first three weeks of non-conference play, games that happen concurrently and aren't aired on one of the broadcast partners' networks, that game would be shown on the Pac-12 Network. Unfortunately, for those of you not living in the geographic region of the schools, this would mean that you would be relegated to two (well really three) options: watch the game on your mobile device (assuming you've authenticated through your service provider), or watch the game on your television -- at a later time. The third option is to hope that your carrier allows you access to Pac-12 Bay Area.

This from the Pac-12:
With our commitment to televise every Pac-12 football and men's basketball game, our seven networks provide significant scheduling flexibility. All of our games will be available nationally on the TV Everywhere platform, and in those cases where a football or men's basketball game is broadcast regionally via Pac-12 Networks, it will be replayed later that evening on the other networks. This will likely happen a few times during the first three weeks of the football season, when we have as many as 10 games on a given weekend. We also have the ability to provide fans "live look-ins" for all televised Pac-12 games.

From this, Pac-12 Networks scribe Jon Wilner inferred that unless you live in the geographic region of the school that doesn't have national priority on the Pac-12 Network, you will not be able to see the game live on television and instead will have to wait until later when the game is shown on the other regional networks, or perhaps until the next day or later that week during a replay on the national network.

This is especially disadvantageous to Stanford for the Duke game. The Pac-12 scheduled the Arizona/Oklahoma State game at the exact same time as the Duke game on September 8th. Since Duke has a much smaller national following than Oklahoma State in football, chances are high that that game will be the national Pac-12 game and the Stanford/Duke game will either be shown only on Pac-12 Bay Area or Pac-12 National with a regional feed for only Northern California. Anyone else wishing to watch the game will have to either switch over to a mobile device or wait for the replay, whenever that may be.

Were we duped? Depends on who you ask. Technically, the league didn't lie as they said all games would air on television, which is what is going to happen. They just didn't tell you WHEN they were going to air. In any case, if you can authenticate your mobile device through your service provider, similar to how ESPN3 works, then at worst you'll be relegated to watching football on your computers or handhelds for live viewings. If you have DirecTV or Dish Network, though, watch out -- Wilner blogged that it is highly unlikely that a deal of any sort will be made between the conference and those carriers before the first week of the season.