Big Ten Network programming director Jim Delany is floating his next big idea.
Would you be OK with the University of Wisconsin football team playing an occasional home game on Friday night?
How about a prime time night game in November when sitting outdoors could expose you to uncomfortable conditions?
Both ideas are years away and neither is a certainty, but they are curious talking points for Big Ten Conference administrators meeting this week in Chicago.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is trying to get feedback to be used in negotiating the next series of TV deals for the league. The current contracts run through 2016 (with Fox for the conference football championship game) and ’17 (with ESPN and ABC for regular-season games).
And here’s the paragraph that summarizes everything I know and love about the current state of college football:
If the networks want Big Ten games on Friday nights — a slot traditionally reserved for high schools — Delany wants to know where his constituents stand and an idea of what a commitment like that would be worth.
It feels like there’s a word missing there… I can’t put my finger on it… wait a minute… oh, yeah – fans!
Shit, who am I kidding? As Jerry Hinnen puts it,
The truth is that as distasteful as Big Ten football on a Friday night must sound to the league traditionalists on first glance, a 14-team league that’s expanded in no small part expressly for the purpose of developing its television network must find ways of maximizing that network — and as of today, Friday nights are a when it comes to reaching viewers. If, say, Rutgers-Purdue is going to be buried beneath a wave of six other league games on your standard October Saturday, is there really so much harm in moving it to a Friday night and snagging both teams a few more eyeballs?
There might be if you’re a ticket-holding fan, of course. But — sadly — does that even matter with the league already all-in on the Big Ten Network? The Friday experiment may or may not come to fruition, but at this point it doesn’t seem wise to bet against it.
Delany didn’t add Rutgers to the conference because of a concern the Big Ten wasn’t getting enough asses in the seats. You’ve got to grab those rare untapped resources wherever you can find them.
I give this five years, max, to become a reality. And it won’t be a once in a blue moon deal when it does. Stay tuned.