The 116th Ohio State-Michigan game has a date and a place.
The next edition of The Game will be played Nov. 30 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Unofficially, it has a network — and probably a time, too.
A representative for Fox revealed this week during a presentation to potential advertisers at annual “upfronts” meetings in New York City the network plans to air the Buckeyes and Wolverines for the third consecutive year.
That did not come as a surprise as Fox secured the first pick of Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 games every year when it agreed to a new broadcast rights package two years ago.
After many years on ABC/ESPN, that made OSU-Michigan becoming a Fox fixture a near certainty.
However, another nugget to come out of the upfronts has the college football media world buzzing: The network plans to put its most appealing matchups on at noon every week this fall.
That means not only is the Ohio State-Michigan game pretty much a lock to remain in its traditional early afternoon slot for the duration of the current rights deals but that more of the Buckeyes’ prominent games could end up kicking off at noon as well.
This is noteworthy because the trend over the past decade or so has been for games to start later in the day, including many more night games than Ohio State typically played in its first 115 years or so of gridiron action.
Aside from the proliferation of primetime games, the 3:30 p.m. Eastern window has been the slot for both ABC/ESPN and CBS to showcase what is regarded as the marquee matchup of the day.
Robert Seidman, a longtime ratings observer who runs the appropriately-named @SportsTVRatings Twitter feed, speculated this is a move by Fox to maximize potential viewership.
“They were getting crushed by the ESPN and CBS (3:30) afternoon SEC window,” he said. “I know it will upset some fans of the schools, but I like the move.”
Fox moving more prime matchups to the noon window could be a win for the home viewer who wants to be entertained in front of their televisions for a solid 12 hours, but it cuts into tailgating time for fans in attendance.
The early start time also presents an issue for those who live far away but wish to attend, something that affects both fans and recruits who face an early wake-up call.
As for the people most directly involved (coaches and players), early starts are often preferable because they allow for more time to spend with friends and family after the game before looking ahead to the next week.
>>RELATED: Buckeyes haven’t lost a noon game since 2012
Ohio State-Michigan at noon is already a proven winner from a ratings standpoint.
The Buckeyes’ surprising blowout of the Wolverines earned a 7.5 rating last season, surpassed only by the national championship game, the two bowls that served as College Football Playoff semifinals, the Rose Bowl and the SEC Championship game according to SportsMediaWatch.com.
Ohio State’s overtime win at Maryland on ABC was the top-rated game of Week 12 while Ohio State wins over Michigan State and Nebraska on Fox ranked second in Weeks 11 and 10, respectively.
Although no 2019 Ohio State kickoff times have been announced yet, a handful are generally released in May and June.
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