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BYU football: Collaboration kept TV streak alive

Published: Sunday, Nov. 6 2011 12:41 a.m. MDT

BYUtv worked with Pac-12, Fox Sports and Oregon State to get Oct. 15 game on TV.

Associated Press

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This is the second in a two-part series on BYU's position as an independent in the unstable world of conference realignment.

Friday: Thanks to its partner ESPN, and its own TV network, BYU is receiving unprecedented exposure.

Today: How BYU was able to capitalize on its vast resources and experience, and work with the Pac-12, Fox Sports, and Oregon State in a short period of time to produce the BYU-OSU game in mid-October.

PROVO — After having its first five games of the 2011 season televised nationally on either ESPN or ESPN2, the BYU football program extolled, and enjoyed, widespread exposure in its first year of independence. But by October, one of the Cougars' games was in jeopardy of not being televised at all — something that hasn't happened since 1994.

How's that for irony?

But thanks to feverish, behind-the-scenes negotiations in a short period of time, BYUtv, with a state-of-the-art HD broadcast truck at its disposal, was able to work with the Pac-12, Fox Sports, and Oregon State to produce and televise the Oct. 15 game between BYU and OSU in Corvallis, Ore.

It was no small feat, and it exemplified BYUtv's impressive broadcasting capabilities.

"The unusual part was it was a game at Oregon State where in essence BYU, the road team, produced the game," Pac-12 associate commissioner Duane Lindberg said. "That doesn't happen very often."

From a conference perspective, the process of deciding which games are televised goes like this — the television partners select certain games, regarded as tier one and two tier picks, on national platforms. In this case, the Pac-12's TV partner, Fox, made its selections, which did not include the BYU-OSU contest. When a game is not selected for national television, the third tier broadcast rights fall back to the individual schools. At that point, the school can work with its local broadcast partner, the third tier rights holder, to show the game in the local market.

To complicate matters, OSU planned to start the game at 1 p.m. local time to accommodate its many fans who travel from the Portland area. But OSU's local rights holder was broadcasting the Washington-Colorado game at 12:30, meaning it could not televise the BYU-OSU contest in that same broadcasting window.

It appeared that the only way fans would be able to watch the game was on the Internet — for a fee.

"On Wednesday (10 days before kickoff), I would have said that we were probably headed to a pay-per-view model on the Internet," said BYU associate athletic director Duff Tittle. "By Thursday and Friday, there were some amazing conversations going on with the Pac-12 and Oregon State. Then Fox got involved. There were conversations about BYUtv, how it works and what it does. They asked, 'Do you really do have an HD truck? You can roll it across the country? You're willing to do this?'"

Getting the game on Fox College Sports Pacific and KBYU, followed by a rebroadcast that night on BYUtv, "was extremely complicated," Lindberg said. It required a flurry of phone conversations and emails between the various parties.

Ultimately, Fox granted a waiver for the game to be broadcast even though it was shown at the same time as another Pac-12 contest.

There was still one other obstacle to overcome — BYU wanted to air the game on BYUtv, which reaches 60 million households.

"In our contract with Fox, it does not permit an institutional telecast to go nationally," Lindberg said. "Those were issues we were dealing with that had to be worked out."

That's why the game was shown on KBYU instead of BYUtv, although the game was allowed to be replayed on BYUtv later that night.

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