Last week, Mother Nature impacted the bowl picture as Buffalo’s game against Akron was postponed due to the epic blizzard that moved the Bills’ home game to Detroit. The game would have been canceled if Ohio lost to Bowling Green as that would have placed Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game due to a dubious pandemic tiebreaker. However, Ohio won and stamped their ticket to Detroit and Buffalo lost to Kent State, so this game now has real bowl implications.
Interestingly enough, the game has been rescheduled not for Saturday afternoon, or Friday night, but Friday afternoon at 1 PM ET. While this may have been done to protect fans from sitting through a bitterly cold night game in Buffalo (The Big Ten has had an unwritten rule preventing November night games, which you can read about here). Logically, this seems like a nightmare for in-person attendance, but it could pay dividends on TV.
While Western New Yorkers and die-hard Akron fans will not be rushing from work to make this game, a nation of stay-at-home parents and night shift workers could tune into this game. This seems funny to point out, but there will always be a lot of Americans watching TV at any time during the day.
For instance, the country’s top-rated daytime talk show, The View, averages 2.4 million viewers per episode. I am not saying that 2.4 million people will tune into Akron-Buffalo at 1 PM ET, but it’s reasonable to believe the ratings could be comparable to the conference’s November MAC games.
The MAC averaged around 852,000 viewers on ESPN and ESPN2 per week with that average being divided between the top three games each week. With those numbers, it’s reasonable to believe Akron vs. Buffalo will not have that significant of a drop-off. None of those #MACtion games had the advantage that Akron-Buffalo has in that it is only competing with the World Cup.
Finally, if you still think I am crazy, this is not even the first time a conference has tried weekday afternoon/morning football. During the wild pandemic season of 2020, Western Kentucky and Charlotte postponed a game to Tuesday, December 1 at 10:30 AM ET. Ultimately, the game was postponed to Sunday afternoon on December 6, but I do believe the game would have done well on TV compared to the Conference’s linear TV slate that season.
While wild circumstances moved Akron-Buffalo to Friday afternoon, I do not believe this will be the last time we’ll see the MAC use Friday afternoon as a contingency. Solid TV ratings could solidify this belief. Move over soap operas and talk shows, we have Akron-Buffalo to watch!