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Selected non-conference games broadcast on the Pac-12 Network will have fewer commercial breaks and reduced halftimes, conference Commissioner Larry Scott announced Wednesday.
"We've worked with our universities on these proposed modifications, and over the next few weeks we'll be finalizing exactly which games during the non-conference season we will be piloting," Scott said during his introduction at the annual Pac-12 media days.
Halftimes will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15. Scott said he spoke with coaches around the conference for input.
"I was delighted to hear our coaches feel like 20 minutes is more than you need from a student-athlete's health and rest — and X's and O's — perspective," Scott said.
The move is in part to help maintain viewer interest — "You could lose as much as 30% of the TV audience at halftime," Scott said — and was made with research provided by ESPN. An NFL game typically lasts about three hours, but Pac-12 games can last 31/2 hours. And many Pac-12 games also are at night in the Pacific time zone, which can run really late for East Coast audiences.
Reducing TV timeouts in number and length isn't the only option, Scott said, citing British Open television coverage as a model.
"You would've seen some new ways of some split screens instead of breaking away from the action," Scott said. "We are going to be on the forefront of experimenting with some of those techniques."
Washington coach Chris Petersen is a fan of the move.
"I love it. I can't stand how long college football games (last); I don't like the games at all," Petersen said. "You do a drive, and then you have to wait. You get a first down, and then you have to wait for another commercial. That just pains me."
Instant replay is another topic the Pac-12 is tinkering with. After experimenting with instant replay at California and Oregon during the 2016 season, the conference will unveil a new centralized replay command center. It will be in the conference's office in San Francisco.
"Our team in the command center will work in concert with our in-stadium replay officials to manage the replay process of all Pac-12 home-hosted games," Scott said.
Scott also said the Pac-12 championship game would remain at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, where it moved in 2014, through at least 2019 with an option in 2020.
"Levi's Stadium offers a big-time atmosphere and an incredible venue for our most important game of the year," Scott said. "Our student-athletes love it."
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