WFTS Ch. 28 explains decision to not show USF
Rich Pegram, general manager at local ABC affiliate WFTS Ch. 28, said he's gotten "many e-mails" from USF fans upset that next week's game against Louisville won't be shown, with Ohio State-Michigan being shown instead.
"They're obviously very angry," Pegram said Thursday, explaining that the station was asked by ABC to carry the national Ohio State-Michigan game rather than the USF game, even though the local game would likely carry higher ratings.
"It's not a financial decision. We would make more money with USF because it'd be higher-rated," Pegram said. "It purely is a matter of supporting the network. We are an ABC affiliate, and ABC asked us to carry Ohio State-Michigan. We could pre-empt that (and run USF), but quite frankly, if we carried USF, we'd get jus as many e-mails from the Ohio State and Michigan folks."
The USF-Louisville game will be broadcast locally on Bright House Sports Network, which reached more than a million customers locally, but for fans who don't have Bright House for cable, they'll have to turn to ESPN's Game Plan pay-per-view option or elsewhere.
Pegram said he understands the frustration from USF fans, but said the decision to show the Big Ten game shouldn't be taken as any kind of disrespect for the Bulls and their fans.
"We love USF. We value the relationship we have with them and try to show them as much as possible," he said. "Am I going to be able to convince somebody it wasn't insanity or a lack of appreciation for the Bulls? I don't know. You can't pick and choose when you're an ABC affiliate, and if every local affiliate pre-empted the national game to show the local team, there would be no network game."
UPDATE: Some of you in the comments have asked me to see what Louisville's ABC affiliate is showing, given the same choice between the local team and the national ABC game.
WHAS, Louisville's ABC affiliate, will be showing USF-Louisville, with the Ohio State-Michigan game airing on a partner station, WBKI, the local CW affiliate. WHAS won't be showing the 3:30 p.m. ABC national game (Penn State-Michigan State) either, instead showing Louisville men's basketball against East Tennessee State, with the ABC national game again going to WBKI.
Tampa-St. Petersburg is a considerably larger market than Louisville, with 1.82-million TV homes, as opposed to 668,000 for Louisville, so ABC national would logically have a greater interest in influencing Tampa's programming as a result.