With the FCS Playoffs and Conference Championships filling the December 3rd slate. It is easy to forget about Valparaiso-New Mexico State, but the game will arguably provide the most exposure for the Pioneer Football League this season.
Since Pioneer Football League is a conglomeration of schools from other Olympic Sports conferences and the demand for their games is not particularly high, the conference lacks a TV contract. As a result, conference games have landed on homes such as Flosports and even Facebook Live.
Pioneer Football League games are highly accessible in the age of streaming, but hardly do much for the reputation of the league. Despite the growing importance of streaming, college football’s best games are on linear TV, despite leagues like MLB and the NFL partnering with streaming services to place their best games. The PFL has hardly had the reputation boost of having a game on a TV network. Below is the list of PFL games broadcasted on linear TV.
- September 3rd: Drake @ North Dakota State, ABC North Dakota/ESPN+ Simulcast
- September 10th: Valparaiso @ Illinois State, Marquee Sports Network/ESPN+ Simulcast
- September 17th: Butler @ South Dakota State, MidCo Sports Network/ESPN+ Simulcast
With Butler partnering with Flosports and several of the other schools in the PFL partnering with ESPN+, the only way for alums and out-of-market fans to see their team was to pay the $10/month ESPN+ fee or the $20/month Flosports fee. The games on linear TV allowed PFL fans to see their schools play without having to add to their TV subscriptions or allow them to see them play at a local sports bar.
Valparaiso’s game will be the fourth PFL game broadcast on linear TV as AggieVision will distribute the broadcast to Comcast Sports New Mexico and more importantly, Bally Sports Arizona, the TV partner of both the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. This makes two appearances for Valparaiso on MLB/NBA TV partners this year alone as Valparaiso played Illinois State on Marquee Sports, the TV home of the Chicago Cubs.
Furthermore, because this game is outside of the Midwestern United States, it has the chance of exposing the Valparaiso program and Pioneer Football League to a previously untouched part of the country. Residents in the southwest could either access the game as part of their TV subscriptions or walk into their neighborhood sports bar and see the game playing. Interestingly enough, the 2018 Iowa State-Drake game was only broadcast on pay-per-view and not linear TV.
Even though Valparaiso missed the playoffs and this game means nothing in the standings, the Pioneer Football League and the Beacons gain so much. Because of this, this could be one of the biggest games in the conference’s over 30-year history.
(Huge thanks to Mattsarzsports.com for the TV broadcast data that was so integral to this article.)