Okay, I admit any story with the header “How ESPN plans to deal with college football games running longer” sounds potentially ominous, but the WWL’s approach turns out to be fairly benign.
For a game that started on a linear network running long with an outcome not in doubt, ESPN will often finish that game on WatchESPN/ESPN3 and a lesser linear network. That’s what happened with the Ole Miss-Alabama game. The Georgia-South Carolina game leading into that game was running long and the outcome was no longer in doubt. So ESPN placed the Georgia-South Carolina game on both ESPN3 and SEC Network Alternate, a non 24/7 sports channel that often handles overflow games. They also promoted the switch on social media and on a bug on the screen. While it’s not a perfect solution for fans—there is none given divided loyalties—it’s an attempt to serve fans.
So, they’re not stupid. And I applaud this:
What about moving to a 12, 4 and 8 start time scenario in order to end the spillover? Not going to happen. Ben-Hanan said ESPN wants to put on as many games as possible so they won’t be doing windows with just three games a day. Studio programming is also not going to draw nearly as well as a game broadcast. “We will put on as many games until fans tell us they don’t like it and we have never seen fans say that,” he said.
If the price is hunting around for where the last five minutes of a thirty-point blowout are being shown, I can live with that, for sure.
Of course, let’s not make Mickey out to be a saint here. Part of what’s pumping up the jam is “… the in-game commercial inventory that has inched up in newer rights deals to help justify the price.” Yeah, I think we’ve noticed.