The Pac-12 has lost more to Big Ten than Los Angeles schools this summer. He also lost a PR dual with the Big 12 — and in decisive fashion, no less.
This is partly by design, partly by circumstance.
In the immediate aftermath of USC and UCLA’s defection, neither conference nor campus officials could offer signs of public unity because no one knew when the next domino would fall.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 was a year removed from his gutting and he was eager to play bandit. Every day, it seemed, the conference was on the verge of delivering a knockout blow to its West Coast competitor.
The calendar added to the Big 12’s advantage. Since his preseason football media extravaganza came first, new commissioner Brett Yormark was able to declare the conference “open for business” — a clear shot across the PAC-12’s bow.
Add in some well-deserved leaks and a sprinkling of misinformation in the media, and the Big 12 has owned optics as the conferences jockey for position in the shadow of the Big Ten and the SEC.
A little bit this week, the Pac-12 has a chance to regain control of its narrative.
Commissioner George Klyavkov, who has been silent since the June 30 thunderbolt, will deliver his State of the Conference address at PAC-12 Media Day on Friday in Los Angeles.
Will he take to the stage with facts, confidence and trumpet or ignore the elephant standing on the podium next to him?
Will he signal that the Pac-12 is also open for business and strike an aggressive tone … or focus on the upcoming 2022 season?
If the former view is preferred – from here, it does not seem that Klyavkov has a choice – he will certainly not lack evidence:
– The new Pac-12 will have better media markets than the new Big 12.
The remaining 10 schools account for six of the nation’s top 30 markets, according to 2021 Nielsen DMA data. (Add San Diego State, and it will be seven.) The Big 12 will have just four.
— Along with Washington and Oregon, the conference features the top 22 schools in football in both leagues.
– TV ratings also favor the Pac-12.
The hotline searched for years of data published on Anmol. SportsMediaWatch website To better understand the viewership trends of both leagues in their reconstituted forms.
The Pac-12 owns the decisive edge in games that generated a rating of 1.0 or better (about 1.7 million viewers).
Before we relay the numbers, a few notes:
* We examined ratings for regular season games over the last five full seasons (2016-19 and 2021). There’s no reason to count out 2020, when the Pac-12 doesn’t take the field until November.
* The SportsMediaWatch database does not provide ratings for some secondary games on the ESPN and Fox networks.
* The Big 12, which has 10 teams, plays 72 games per season while the Pac-12 plays 90.
* About one-third of Pac-12 games are on the Pac-12 Networks. Which are not classified by the tracking companies. which provides data for SportsMediaWatch. (Some of those games — Oregon vs. Utah in 2018, for example — would have been candidates to clear the 1.0 threshold.)
So, how do Texas, Oklahoma, USC and UCLA affect their respective league rankings?
We found the following:
Total number of games rated 1.0 or better:
PAC 12: 109
Number of 1.0 rated games featuring at least one departing team:
PAC 12: 45
Number of games with a 1.0 rating that did not feature a starting team:
Percentage of games with a 1.0 rating that did not feature a starting team:
Big 12: 27.7%
Number of games with a 2.0 rating (3.5 million viewers) not including teams that are away:
The Big 12 seems to lean more on Texas and Oklahoma than the Pac-12 does on USC and UCLA.
One reason: The Bruins don’t move the needle, save for their annual date with USC and the occasional non-conference showdown.
In addition, USC’s decline in the post-Pete Carroll era has had a two-pronged effect, hurting the overall value of the Pac-12 while clearing the stage for other teams to build brand awareness now trying to save the conference. can help
Oregon and Washington top the list — as does Stanford — with their annual showdown emerging as one of the Pac-12’s most valuable properties: It’s had a 1.5 rating (or better) three years in a row. ) has produced
There isn’t just one evenly matched matchup in the Big 12 that doesn’t involve Texas or Oklahoma.
Also, the competition in the Big 12 is a problem. Based on the Central Time Zone, its games are often against the SEC and Big Ten.
But that’s why the Pac-12 has value to the likes of Fox and ESPN. It can fill competition-free broadcast windows with matchups that appeal to 75 million people in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.
As John Kusner, ESPN’s former executive vice president/digital, recently noted on Twitter: “Pac-12 football in West Coast primetime is appointment TV – really valuable in any scenario.”
Where do things stand?
Our sense is that Pac-12 presidents and chancellors want a compelling reason to stay together and are waiting (maybe weeks, maybe months) to determine if that reason exists.
Based on media markets, football brands and TV ratings, it is not clear that the new Big 12 has a significant enough strategic advantage over the new Pac-12 to spark mass migration.
USC and UCLA will double their revenue in the Big Ten.
But will Oregon agree to send its teams a few extra million dollars a year to play UCF in Orlando?
Will Arizona travel to West Virginia for money that won’t change its budget?
More than three weeks into this storm, we don’t have enough clarity to draw conclusions.
Perhaps the Pac-12 will provide something this week.
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