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No. 21 Stanford and No. 25 Washington State faced off Saturday in a battle of ranked teams, with major implications for the Pac-12 North standings.

And yet for most of the country, most of the contest was broadcast on, of all channels, Fox Business Network.

Stanford and Washington State were supposed to play on Fox, as soon as the Michigan State-Penn State game in East Lansing wrapped up. But in the second quarter of the latter contest, Spartan Stadium was hit by a lightning storm, forcing an evacuation of the venue. Fox quickly announced that the Cardinal and Cougars would air on Fox Business Network, everywhere but in Northern California and Eastern Washington.

The delay in East Lansing dragged on long enough that Fox could the first half of Stanford-Washington State around the country, after all, but that was only a temporary solution. Around 4:40 p.m. ET, the Spartans and Nittany Lions resumed play, leaving two matchups of ranked teams running at the same time, scheduled for the same network. Fox could have simply bumped one of the games to FS1, but No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 11 Oklahoma State were already squaring off there. It could have utilized FS2, but that network has relatively meager reach. That left Sports Business Network.

This is not the first time this season Fox has relegated football games to Fox Business Network. In September, Purdue and Michigan began there when a Cubs-Brewers game on Fox went long. The network is an obviously poor fit for sports, but the fact that it’s included on most cable packages makes it preferable to FS2, apparently.

Anyway, when Michigan State and Penn State resumed, the Northern California and Eastern Washington markets saw the rest of Stanford and Washington State on Fox, while the rest of the country got the Spartans and Nittany Lions. All games were also available digitally on FoxSportsGo. The Cardinal and Cougars were only midway through the second quarter when they were bumped.

What a mess. In the end, Fox was doomed here by three factors:

  1. The strength of its own lineup. With marquee games airing on Fox and FS1, an otherwise appealing matchup was suck on a network known for stock-market analysis.
  2. Its failure to build FS2 into a viable network with enough reach to carry a notable college football game.
  3. Mother Nature.

No. 1 is ultimately a good problem to have. No. 2 is something worth working on. And No. 3 is, well, out of even the most powerful TV executives’ hands.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Matt

    This is fake news! Everyone gets FOX Business. Not any different with a game on ESPNEWS.

    • MrSchimpf

      Many of those homes don’t bother with watching FBN though (the average tracked Nielsen rating for a business network during the day is only around 100,000 viewers). In reality, numerical reach means nothing; if that was the case, Jewelry TV, C-SPAN and Home Shopping Network would be beyond the top networks in the country due to their home count, even though very few actually watch them.

    • TheOriginalDonald

      Then why is CNBC is ESPN of business, and FBN is FS1

      • Fox Business is the WWE of business.

        • whittx

          But at least the WWE Network has stuff worth watching for its niche, unlike FBN. A washed up CNN guy and a washed up former VJ? Just keep clicking on the remote.

        • TheOriginalDonald

          CNBC is still around, and they aren’t the Impact Wrestling or ROH of business

  • Pioneer

    I waited all week for that game and Fox did not say you could watch the Washington St and Stanford game on FNB. Of course I hate Penn State and quickly changed the channel. Now I’m ditching Directv for not having an announcement on their other football games directing fans.

    • Matt

      It said it on bottom of your screen.

  • TheOriginalDonald

    Which would you choose-college football or Loony Lou Dobbs????

  • As a Spartan fan with DirecTV I was stuck with the Stanford on my local affiliate and on FBN. Maddening.

  • Tony DeMaria

    How are you going to grow FS2 into a viable network with more reach if you won’t even put games like this on the network? You put it on FS2 for out of market areas, people complain to cable providers, cable providers add FS2 to their lineups in the future. Anyone that really wants to watch the game but doesn’t have FS2 can watch on the app and obviously the home markets are still showing the game.

  • Fox could have put the game on both Fox Business and Fox Sports 2, just to be safe.

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