Every OU season of late seems to have a lot of similarities: a Heisman trophy finalist / winner, a Big XII championship ring, and a College Football Playoff, um, appearance. These are all undoubtably very good things, but one other consistency that OU fans would rather not have is the inevitable PPV game.
A minor problem to be sure, considering the list of otherworldly things the Sooners have been accomplishing on the field, but still one that fans would rather not see. In this COVID-shortened season where no games are guaranteed of actually happening, there was some hope that we would get a reprieve from paying for the pleasure of seeing an extended practice.
So why is there a game on PPV every season, you ask? It is a question OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione is asked and has answered many times. In short, it is due to TV contracts between the networks, the conferences, and in some cases, the individual teams.
Each year, the networks (ESPN and FOX) get together and pick games to show on their respective family of channels, in a way very similar to your Fantasy Draft. Games like OU – Missouri State fall down to the lower rounds of the draft. Due to OU’s contract with Fox Sports and SoonerSports.tv, Fox can pick this game to show on PPV also known as SoonerSports.tv, as Fox stands to make some decent money out of it every year. The choice for PPV is out of OU’s hands, or more accurately, OU traded this choice to Fox as part of the SoonerSports deal.
In most seasons, the games are predictable. Opponents such as South Dakota State, Akron or Louisiana Monroe are usually overmatched, and OU’s Quarterback is done by the start of the second half. An exception would be the Army game in 2018, which got very tight and very much in doubt as it went to overtime. This had national CFB writers scrambling to buy the game in the 2nd half:
It also caused some chuckling about the state of Big 12 and the PPV contracts at the time:
Alternative viewing options for this year’s pay-per-view matchup are limited as well. Watching the game from inside the stadium is out for most, with OU both offering an opt-out for season ticket holders, as well as limiting attendance to 25% of capacity. PPV games are also a good opportunity to visit a local establishment that is picking up the game, or even checking out the local alumni or fan club that is reserving the hall to host what would be one of their best attended events of the year. Those options are gone, too.
But the reality is that this whole football season is limited, with anticipated games such as rematches against Army and Tennessee already off the table. And there is no guarantee that the games we do have schedule will actually get played. So, will we fork out the $55 to watch Spencer Rattler make his debut as starter in a game whose outcome is only slightly less determined than the last time we saw him play?
Hell yes, we will! We would happily pay for Army and Tennessee games too, if we could. If nothing else, when we run the credit card right before the kickoff to the start to this odd season, let it serve as a reminder to OU fans that nothing is guaranteed, not conference championships, not Heisman trophy winners, especially not CFP games, and let us the enjoy the season we’ve got.