Athens Messenger

May 21, 2017

MAC Deals with Multitude of Issues with Football Scheduling

...The MAC, because of its rights agreement with ESPN, is contractually obligated to provide games for those midweek games through the month of November. It's a point that sticks with some fans.

The demand from some quarters is to play more Saturday games. It's one the MAC, and its member institutions, aren't going to concede. The money from the rights agreement, and the value of the exposure provided by midweek games, outweighs any perceived benefit from playing on Saturdays in November, Steinbrecher said.

The MAC can tell the ESPN it wants to play on Saturday in November. But the television windows on that day, in the last month, are dominated by Power 5 conferences. The MAC would lose visibility and exposure.

And attendance numbers the conference cited indicate that in-stadium interest is more influenced by the importance of the game rather than on the day of the week it's played at that point in the year, Steinbrecher said.

"There's the annual Why are we playing the week of Thanksgiving question. It's the flashpoint for a vocal minority," Steinbrecher said. "There's more general noise around the midweek game right now.

"So okay, which one of the power 5 guys are they going to displace (on Saturday)?"

According to a study commissioned by the MAC and provided by Joyce Julius & Associates, $6 million in 'exposure value' was generated by the conference's midweek games (per game) in 2016.

Dargis said ratings for midweek games were higher as well, "75 to 100 percent" higher for games that aired on ESPN2 during the middle of the week compared to a Saturday slot for the conference on ESPNU.

It's critical broadcast real estate for the MAC. Scheduling midweek games is challenging, but it's part of what the MAC signed up for.

"If we want to be a national conference, then we have to make accommodations in certain areas," Gennarelli said...