Canzano: Waking up to East Coast bias
Glaring issue when it comes to exposure, brands, kickoff times.
NEW YORK — I woke on Wednesday morning in a hotel not far from Central Park.
The sounds of the city climbed from the streets to my window on the 20th floor. Wailing sirens. A driver blasting his horn. That morning chorus came amid a sobering thought — it was still 3 a.m. on the West Coast — and my readers in the Pac-12 footprint were likely asleep.
We’re on an extended family trip to New York. We saw the Statue of Liberty, visited the Natural History Museum and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
My three daughters stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, watched a Broadway production of “The Lion King” and got to spend time with a couple aunts who live nearby.
One of them, Nicole Bengiveno, is a retired photographer who worked for years at The New York Times and shot images for National Geographic, among others. The girls sat, wide-eyed over a meal, listening to Aunt Nicki talk about being among the first western journalists allowed into the Soviet Union. She’s captured photos of wars, famines, football games and traveled to faraway lands.
The other aunt, Sally Jenkins, is an award-winning sports columnist at The Washington Post. She recently published a terrific piece on the unusual friendship between rival tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. It’s the best thing I’ve read in a while. But my daughters seemed more impressed when Aunt Sally pulled out a leash and let them take her dog — named “Bacon” — for a walk.
A former newspaper colleague from the West Coast who took a job in the Eastern Time Zone told me that one of the first things he noticed after his move was how much that three-hour time difference mattered when it came to sports habits.
By the time the Pac-12 kicks off a Saturday college football game, the Big Ten, ACC and SEC have saturated the market with highlights, scores, storylines and content.
“Anything west of the Rockies,” he lamented, “feels like it’s happening on another planet.”
The “Pac-12 After Dark” stuff is fun branding. The games are interesting to college football fans in the Pacific Time Zone, but by 7:30 p.m. PT the East Coast is more interested in finding a pillow.
One morning during the current family trip, I waited for noon ET to arrive. I had a column to file, but didn’t want to bother a source before business hours on the West Coast. While I waited, I lamented to my Aunt Sally that posting at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time probably meant that I was missing a swath of potential readers on the East Coast.
“By that time,” my aunt said, “my day is half over.”
On Tuesday, I watched the MLB All-Star Game from the hotel. The post-game show on FOX featured a roundtable of former star players. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz sat on a set at T-Mobile field in Seattle after the National League’s 3-2 victory.
Rodriguez sounded amazed when he said at one point: “The sun isn’t even down here yet.”
The Pac-12 is negotiating its long-awaited media-rights deal. Football Media Day is next week in Las Vegas. I’m left thinking about what a Pac-12 partnership with Apple-TV might do to ease some of those late kickoff times.
The Pac-12 won’t want to go head-to-head vs. the top SEC and Big Ten games. That doesn’t make sense. Also, there’s demand from ESPN and FS1 for the late Pacific Time Zone windows on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. The conference still covets that linear exposure and the glow it brings. But the Pac-12’s best games shouldn’t be tucked away in those extreme late-night windows on the Pac-12 Network where the rest of the country can’t see them.
Would a deal with a streaming partner give the Pac-12 more control over some of its kick-off times? Certainly, the 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. or even 8 p.m. kicks we’ve seen on the Pac-12 Network could slide to 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. PT with little consequence. If you’re streaming, the traditional kickoff windows become less vital.
I’ve talked with conference athletic directors in the last few years who not only lament the exposure hit that a 7:30 p.m. PT kickoff brings, but also worry that playing so late hurts football season-ticket sales.
I’m eager to see the Pac-12’s media deal and unpack the details. The revenue matters. The partners matter. But those kickoff times are an interesting sideshow. The competition for your attention should never be a pillow.
• PLANTING SEEDS: Anyone else catch the post-game show for the MLB All-Star Game? If you did, you heard the on-air crew talk repeatedly and glowingly about “the great Pacific Northwest.” It was almost as if A-Rod, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz had been handed scripted talking points to avoid positioning the game as belonging to “Seattle” as much as it did to the entire “Pacific Northwest.”
Maybe it was just coincidental, but I wondered if the marketing folks at MLB and FOX were simply trying to capture larger audience in the region or maybe even set the scene for MLB expansion.
• GAMBLING: DraftKings stock hit a 52-week high on Monday. Analysts are scrambling to adjust their expectations for the entire sports-wagering industry amid some intriguing growth. Earnings are out in early August but Wall Street estimates project that DraftKings will post a 100 percent increase in earnings for the second quarter vs. the same period last year. One of the key drivers of that growth is an increase in “same-game parlays” on the platform.
The state of Oregon, incidentally, uses DraftKings as its legal sports-wagering platform. The state continues to be hamstrung by lawmakers who won’t allow wagering on college sporting events. You can bet on the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, darts, cricket and golf, but not college sports.
Lobbyists for the tribal sports books successfully killed Senate Bill 1503 in March of 2022. It would have allowed wagering on college sporting events and ear-marked the revenue from it to provide scholarships for low-income college students.
• ON THE MOVE: The Big Ten Conference hired Scott Markley as Vice President of Strategic Communications this week. Markley worked for the last couple of years at UCLA as senior associate AD for communications.
Markley grew up in San Diego and previously worked for Kellog’s, Walmart and McDonald’s. More notably, he was a spokesperson for the Supreme Court of the United States from 2006 to 2014.
If that’s not impressive, also know that Markley got along well with Chip Kelly.
I appreciate all who support, subscribe and share this independent endeavor. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing or gifting a subscription to a family member or friend. You may also “donate” a subscription to someone on a fixed budget below.