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The CW, Fox create huge max audience for WSU, OSU

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Against the backdrop of rejection and desperation, Washington State and Oregon State have accumulated enough victories to stay afloat in the realignment game.

They took the Pac-12’s departing schools to court and secured more than $200 million in assets.

They signed a football scheduling agreement with the Mountain West and secured affiliate memberships in the West Coast Conference for other sports, including basketball.

They even retained an appropriate slice (given the circumstances) of the College Football Playoff revenue.

And with the recent reveal of their TV schedule for the upcoming football season, the Cougars and Beavers added another win to the ledger.

On May 14, they announced deal with Fox and The CW to air 13 home games.

On May 30, the broadcast plans for many of their road games materialized.

Combine the two packages, and the ‘Pac-2’ schools will enjoy more visibility than they could have reasonably expected — and far more potential exposure to college football fans nationally than they ever had in the Pac-12.

Granted, none of the aforementioned wins will come close to negating the reality of being left behind. Regardless of the asset amount, CFP revenue slices or partnerships with Fox and The CW, their futures are murky.

But at least their primary export, football, is well-positioned in the short term.

The Hotline has attempted to lend context to the situation by calculating the maximum audience available for WSU and OSU based on the broadcast schedule for their home and road games in 2024.

We then compared that audience to what was available for the Cougars and Beavers in 2023, when many of their games were shown on the Pac-12 Networks.

Key point: There is a whopping difference between maximum audience and actual audience.

The Cougars and Beavers will attract only a fraction of the total eyeballs available, but the size of the viewing universe isn’t irrelevant in their pursuit of relevance.

We estimated the following figures for each network:

— Broadcast TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and The CW): 100 million homes

— Basic cable networks (ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, CBS Sports Network): 70 million homes

— ACC and Big Ten Networks: 60 million homes

— Peacock: 35 million homes

— Pac-12 Networks: 15 million homes

And because several road games won’t receive network assignments until the regular season begins, we were forced to make two assumptions:

Washington State’s four road games against Mountain West opponents will air on CBS Sports Network; and Oregon State’s road game at Cal will be shown on the ACC Network.

Now, the maximum audience calculations …

Washington State in 2023

CBS Sports Network (one game): 70 million homes
ESPN2 (one): 70 million
FS1 (one): 70 million
ABC (two): 200 million
Fox (two): 200 million
Pac-12 Networks (five): 75 million
Total: 685 million

Washington State in 2024

Fox (one): 100 million
Peacock (one): 35 million
CBS Sports Network  (four): 280 million
The CW (six): 600 million
Total: 1.015 billion

WSU percentage increase year/year: 48.2

Oregon State 2023

ABC (one): 100 million
CBS (one): 100 million
ESPN (two): 140 million
FS1 (two): 140 million
Fox (three): 300 million
Pac-12 Networks (three): 45 million
Total: 825 million

Oregon State 2024

ACC Network (one): 60 million
Fox (two): 200 million
CBS Sports Network (three): 210 million
The CW (six): 600 million
Total: 1.07 billion

OSU percentage increase year/year: 29.7

Which brings us to the grand totals …

WSU and OSU combined max audience in 2023: 1.51 billion

WSU and OSU combined max audience in 2024: 2.085 billion

WSU and OSU combined percentage increase year/year: 38.1





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