The Pac-12 After Dark we've come to know and love is going to be Pac-12 afternoon a little more often in the 2016 season.
As part of the conference's end of the year board meeting, the Pac-12 announced it will reduce the number of late night starts on the Pac-12 Network in 2016. The conference has modified its television agreement with ESPN and Fox to allow games on the Pac-12 Network to overlap and begin at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. PT. According to the release, this could reduce the number of late night starts (after 7 p.m. PT) by up to four for 2016.
"The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans," said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens. "The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person."
For the hardcore college football viewer that learned to love those late kickoffs that often continued into the wee hours of the morning on the east coast, it's a bit bittersweet because they provided so much late night entertainment. However, the motive for the conference is understandable. Earlier kickoffs allow for the potential for more eyeballs nationally -- east coast bias has long been a concern for Pac-12 teams in voting for both polls and awards -- and, as Mullens noted in his statement, allow for more flexibility in travel for visiting teams and fans.
Pac-12 After Dark isn't going away totally, but we will now have some weeks where the Power Five conference slate ends before midnight on the east coast. We'll just have to adjust and get our late night college football fix from the Mountain West by way of the dulcet sounds of Robert Kekaula on the ultra late night Hawaii broadcasts.