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Saturday, January 4, 2014

What Does the Fox Say

Tonight, college football features two major bowl games with starkly different halftime philosophy. The Cotton Bowl, on Fox, actually gets a portion - albeit small - of both bands' halftime shows televised. The Orange Bowl continues its tradition of having a recording artist perform during halftime, keeping both bands off the field. The Orange Bowl's foolish tradition isn't the only culprit though; if the marching bands got field time they'd likely never get air time on the Worldwide Leader. So how did Fox become the unlikely champion of the band? Here's how it happened, near as I can tell.

Years ago, Fox bid on the BCS and was awarded the contract, bringing every BCS bowl except for the Rose Bowl (and the national championship when hosted there) to their network from the 2006-2009 seasons. It represented a major leap into televising the college game for a network that previously showed only the Cotton Bowl. Fox had to do something to differentiate its product from the NFL it was accustomed to televising. Meanwhile, the one bowl that the ESPN family of networks retained, the Rose Bowl contractually obligates the network to show part of halftime. Fox, a new player in the game, had to keep up with the Joneses, and while I can't speak for their previous Cotton Bowl coverage, I know that they announced with intention that they would show halftime as part of their coverage.

Four years later, when ESPN resumed the BCS and nearly all of the bowls, I was hopeful that they may retain that tradition, though it didn't surprise me that they didn't. Today, the Cotton Bowl remains the only Fox bowl and one of two not on the ESPN family of networks, and while the time the spend on halftime is brief, I'm glad it's still there.
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