SBD/June 14, 2011/Colleges

Pac-12's Massive Media Rights Deals Land Larry Scott Atop Power Broker List

Scott helped Pac-12 see 250% increase in new rights deal with Fox, ESPN
CBSSPORTS.com ranked Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott No. 1 on its Top 100 college athletics power brokers, and CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote Scott is "one of the most influential persons in college sports -- ever." When Scott leaves his post, his legacy "will draft behind like a comet's tail." That was "assured the moment he gathered the league's 12 presidents for a hastily arranged Sunday conference call on May 1." Scott three days later "announced a record 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox that represented a 250 percent increase in the league's rights fees." An industry source said that "when the still-to-come Pac-12 Network is on line, the league could be taking in $400 million per year," or $33.3M per school. Dodd wrote Scott, since assuming the role in June '09, has "changed what has been possible in college athletics." He "shocked the world" last June by "making a bold play for six Big 12 schools to create the Pac-16." ESPN and Fox "at the last minute ... jumped in to make financial assurances to the Big 12 that basically kept Texas from jumping." But "within two weeks, Utah and Colorado had joined, allowing the league to split into divisions and stage a conference championship game beginning this season." Dodd: "You get the feeling the idea for superconferences hasn't been driven from his mind." However, Dodd wondered if Scott will "even be around to enjoy the league's fortunes." UNLV and former Univ. of Arizona AD Jim Livengood said, "How long he wants to do this is to be determined. Larry's one of those persons who always has a challenge ahead of him" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/10).

NEXT PROJECT: CBSSPORTS.com's Bryan Fischer wrote Scott's focus "has now turned to what some consider the league's possible crown jewel -- the Pac-12 Network." Scott and Pac-10 Deputy Commissioner & COO Kevin Weiberg are hoping to get the net "off the ground by the time the league's new deal begins next summer." Weiberg, a former Big 12 Conference Commissioner who also helped launch the Big Ten Network, is "no stranger to the concept of having an in-house media operation." He "saw the potential revenue streams a conference could bring in and originally pitched the idea to the Big 12." The "biggest issue facing any potential cable network is distribution." The BTN "ran into issues following its launch and took years to get onto top cable distributors," and the Pac-12 is "expected to face a similar uphill battle with distributors tired of channels continuing to raise subscriber fees." But with the "potential of several hundred million in revenue, a league channel offers too many benefits for a conference that has struggled to promote its brand." Fischer noted besides being the "only BCS league west of the Rockies" and having a "monopoly on the Pacific and Mountain time zones, the network will look to have programming that hits East Coast primetime windows as well." Every football and men's and women's basketball game will be televised, and "retaining some premium games for the network is expected to help." Meanwhile, there is "no question the Pac-12 could eventually be on in millions of homes in China, Japan and other countries." A conference official confirmed that Scott "has already made inquiries about having the channel distributed overseas shortly after launch" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/10).
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