N.C. State’s home game with Notre Dame on Saturday will kick off at noon and be televised nationally on ABC (WTVD locally).
Predictably, N.C. State fans are not happy with the early start time.
A FAQ on all-things-TV/kickoff time-related:
Does N.C. State have a say when the games start?
The short answer is no. The ACC has a television contract with ESPN, worth about $2 billion, so the schools do not control start times.
TV tells the ACC when the games will be played to fit their various channels (all the ESPNs, ABC, Fox Sports and local Raycom affiliates) and time slots (noon, 12:30, 3:30, 7, 8). After all TV obligations are filled, then the school can choose its start time.
For N.C. State, that’s usually 6 p.m. for games against teams like Old Dominion or from the I-AA level.
Why do they take so long to announce the start time?
Yeah, the days of releasing a schedule with all the start times known months in advance are long gone. Normally, the ACC and ESPN will announce the start times two weeks in advance.
Basically, they want to be able to move the best games around and into the time slots that best fill their needs.
In August, Louisville-Clemson probably wasn’t ticketed for a primetime start but after Louisville’s fast start, it was picked to be the national primetime game on ABC (which owns ESPN).
Clemson’s dramatic win drew a 6.0 rating, according to ESPN, and was the highest-rated ABC primetime game since 2014.
But it took longer for ESPN to announce the start time for Notre Dame’s first-ever visit to Raleigh because it was on a “six-day option” list along with Miami-Florida State and North Carolina-Virginia Tech games. That meant ESPN could wait until Sunday to pick the start times.
Miami-FSU was slotted for primetime (8 p.m., ABC) with UNC-VT at 3:30 p.m. on a split regional broadcast (ABC locally, ESPN2 nationally) and N.C. State-Notre Dame at noon on ABC.
Fans prefer a later start for more tailgating and travel time. The noon/12:30 slot would be last on my fans’ list of preferred starting times. Do TV types look at it the same way?
Both would agree the 8 p.m. primetime spot is the best. But since the noon slot is a national game, it’s actually ahead of the 3:30 slot in ESPN’s pecking order.
Notre Dame, even at 2-3, is a national attraction, and ESPN only gets so many shots at the Fighting Irish, given all of its home games are broadcast by NBC.
The Irish actually played in the noon national slot on Saturday against Syracuse (a 50-33 win).
The N.C. State-Wake Forest game kicked off at 3:30 this week, by the way, because it was on Fox Sports Carolinas. There was no chance of ESPN farming out a Notre Dame game to either Fox Sports or Raycom.
Does it really matter if the game starts at noon?
Well, for N.C. State, its record at home in night games (6 p.m. or later starts) is 19-5 since the start of the 2007 season. Its record in home noon or 12:30 p.m. games over the same time span is 11-10 (and 11-10 in games that start between 3 and 4 p.m.).
Not all of those home wins at night were great, but it does include a pair of upsets over Florida State.
So noon it is. What time do the stadium lots open for tailgating?
Quick math (12 minus 5 equals 7). So it’s 7 a.m. For local fans, that’s an early start. For fans who have to drive longer, that’s a super early start.
(Hence, the general displeasure with the noon kick.)
What time is N.C. State’s game at Clemson on Oct. 15?
The ACC will make that announcement on Monday … unless it gets another dreaded six-day option.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio