The postponement of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series will impact where college football fans can watch No. 4 Ohio State’s visit to Northwestern on Friday.
Wednesday’s Game 4 between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees was postponed to Thursday because of rain in New York City. That postponement pushed Game 5 back from Thursday to Friday, an originally scheduled off day for the series.
The off day worked out well for Fox, the network that has the broadcast rights for the ALCS. With no baseball scheduled for Friday, the WWE was set to be on Fox on Friday night while Northwestern’s game against the Buckeyes was set for FS1. But with a pivotal baseball game getting moved to Friday, one of the two regularly-scheduled broadcasts had to budge. And it wasn’t the wrestling broadcast.
With the ALCS on Fox Sports 1, the football game will now be on the Big Ten Network. While BTN is a logical fit for the game — after all, Fox has a stake in the conference’s channel — it’s a letdown for the conference.
And it also was the inevitable move for Fox. The network recently obtained the rights to the WWE’s “Smackdown” show on Friday nights. It wasn’t going to move something that recently came to the network. Besides, nearly 4 million people watched the first Fox episode of “Smackdown” on Oct. 5.
The Big Ten started playing games on Friday nights at the behest of television networks. After all, live sporting events are great inventory for the networks that pay millions to broadcast games. But the move didn’t go over too well with the conference’s schools. Penn State and Michigan immediately pushed back against the idea when it was pitched ahead of the 2017 season.
Northwestern, the home team Friday night, was initially not thrilled with the arrangement either. While the push for Friday night games was billed as a potential opportunity for teams outside of the marquee names of the conference to get some national home exposure, the Wildcats got two originally scheduled Friday night games in 2017 moved to Saturdays.
At the time, Northwestern said it had heard from leaders at the school regarding the “unintended consequences” of having games on Friday.
The postponement of the ALCS certainly counts as an unintended consequence. And it probably wasn’t what folks at Northwestern were thinking about when they initially resisted the idea in 2017.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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