You were not alone if you missed No. 5 Oklahoma keep its undefeated season alive — barely — against Army.
The Sooners’ game against the Black Knights was only available on television for the low cost of $55 on pay-per-view. Yes, a college football game involving a top-five opponent was not available on cable or a low-priced streaming service in 2018. Go Big 12.
The lack of availability meant that some fans were getting creative in trying to watch the game, especially as Army took it to overtime after Austin Seibert missed a potential game-winning field goal. Per Reddit, a user streaming the game on Twitch using a cellphone to film a TV had over 30,000 people watching the stream.
The game of the day played out on Twitch.
And it peaked at nearly 32,000 viewers, good for the #2 stream on the entire site. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/ZYotB7CqCZ
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 23, 2018
There’s a good chance you could have scored a last-second ticket to the game for less than $55. Granted, if you were going to the game with a few people, then staying at home and paying for the game would be the cheaper option. But fans aren’t often faced with a cost analysis of staying home and watching a game and going to it given how widely football games are available.
Oklahoma won the game 28-21 in overtime with a touchdown on its last possession. Army got the ball with a chance to tie or win with a TD and two-point conversion and Oklahoma intercepted a pass on fourth down.
Why the game was on PPV
The Big 12’s television contracts with its 10 schools mean Oklahoma frequently has a game on pay-per-view. While a game on ESPN+ would cost fans just $50 for the entire year of offerings on the streaming service, Fox has the production rights to an Oklahoma game every year. And since pay-per-view can still be lucrative at $55, the answer is pretty simple.
The SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 have television contracts that grant all their games to their media partners. But the Big 12’s contracts with ESPN and Fox keep back one game per school to present however it wants.
Texas, for example, has one game a year that goes to the Longhorn Network (although ESPN often moves a second game to Bevo TV). Kansas State and Iowa State, for example, each take their game for digital distribution. OU, OSU, Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech have individual contracts that give Fox Sports that extra game.
The Big 12’s television contracts have been a bane of the conference’s existence. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M all left the conference in a two-year span for the greener (as in money, not success) pastures of the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC. While the Pac-12’s own TV network has struggled to find its distribution footprint, the Big Ten and SEC Networks have been a huge financial boost for those conferences.
The Big 12 is holding its own when it comes to revenue, so there isn’t much reason for its schools to jump ship at the moment. That said, we wouldn’t be opposed to a renegotiation of those lower-tier football TV rights to make sure that pay-per-view games don’t ever happen again.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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