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‘The Ultimate Fantasy Football Draft: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at College Football Scheduling’



The start of the 2024 college football season is fast approaching, and networks have begun sharing the kickoff dates and times for some of the big games that will be airing in the upcoming season. For instance, FOX Sports has announced that they will be carrying important matchups such as the Texas vs. Michigan game on September 7, the Alabama vs. Wisconsin game on September 14, and the 120th edition of “The Game” on November 30, all airing in the “Big Noon” window. However, determining which games will air on which networks is not a simple process. FOX, along with NBC and CBS, conducted a draft to determine which network will have the rights to air certain Big Ten games in the 2024 season.

FOX Sports President of Insights and Analytics, Michael Mulvihill, described the draft process as “the world’s greatest fantasy football draft.” The networks spend a lot of time strategizing and predicting the draft outcomes to ensure they are able to attract the biggest audience possible. The drafts are highly competitive, with a lot of money at stake and a focus on capturing huge audiences. The goal is to strategically position the network to have high-quality games for broadcast, even with later picks in the draft. It is a complex process that requires careful planning and analysis.

When it comes to selecting the games for the “Big Noon” window, FOX has the advantage of holding the top three selections in the Big Ten draft for the next several years. The network carefully considers the matchups available on specific dates to make the best choices. While some games are obvious top picks, the decision-making process becomes more complex when multiple games of similar quality are available on the same date. Factors such as audience potential, game quality, and strategic positioning play into the decision-making process.

The selection of games for the “Big Noon” window is not solely based on the quality of the matchups. Other considerations, such as the impact of the games on FOX’s branding, advertising revenue opportunities, and distribution partnerships, also come into play. In some cases, the networks may decide to trade picks to ensure they have a schedule that appeals to a wide audience and maximizes revenue opportunities. The goal is to create a schedule that balances game quality, audience potential, and strategic partnerships.

In some instances, the decision-making process can be so challenging that networks may choose to trade their picks to ensure a more favorable outcome. This flexibility allows networks to adapt their schedules to best meet their objectives and provide compelling content for viewers. Ultimately, the goal of the draft process is to create a schedule that showcases the best matchups, maximizes audience engagement, and leverages partnerships to build a successful college football broadcasting strategy. The college football draft process is a highly strategic and competitive endeavor that plays a key role in shaping the upcoming season’s broadcast schedule.

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