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The Pac-12 Conference yesterday announced the creation of "not just one national channel, but six additional regionals as well that will focus on the largest areas represented" in the conference's new alignment, according to Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks are the "first on board in distributing the regionals that will launch in August 2012 with more deals expected to be negotiated in the coming months." Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and the Rocky Mountain regions are the "areas of primary focus, carrying channels that are expected to be sold as basic cable." Meanwhile, a national net "could be created from DirecTV and the Dish Network on a sports tier that will charge the viewer extra per month." The networks will carry "about 850 conference events -- 350 nationally, and 500 on the local channels." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "We've had a national brand, but the tribal nature make college sports very local. So this is an attempt through the unique structure of our conference and the cable industry to super-serve fans in a hyper-local way." Hoffarth notes the Pac-12 has been using CAA to "pull its TV deals together" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/28). Scott said that the regional networks would be carried on "digital sports tiers that require extra fees in the rest of the country." He added that the conference "will keep ownership of the Pac-12 Network" (L.A. TIMES, 7/28).
PROGRAMMING PLANS: The AP noted "every football and men's basketball game will be televised nationally." Subscribers to the networks "will also be able to watch games on mobile devices" (AP, 7/27). Scott said that the networks "will allow the conference to deliver on its promise to make all football and men's basketball games available to fans." In Colorado, Kyle Ringo reports all conference championships "will eventually be televised and the creation of the networks likely will mean every spring football game around the conference will be televised." But "perhaps the greatest impact will be felt by Olympic sports student-athletes and coaches." The regional networks "will feature hyper-local content as well as programming available on the national network," though it is "unclear whether a Colorado fan living in Southern California will have access to the regional Mountain network." Scott "did not say what the startup costs of the networks would be." But multiple conference officials and ADs last month said that those costs "could be between" $60-80M (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 7/28). Scott indicated that the conference is also "looking to bring even more content to broadband, but more work needs to be done there." MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted the Pac-12 is "looking to explore international distribution opportunities, and is contemplating, but has yet to push toward services catering to Latinos in the States" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 7/27).
NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY: In San Jose, Jon Wilner noted the "most profitable course" for the Pac-12 in creating the nets "would have been to partner with one cable or satellite company and then strongarm others for the best deals" for subscription fees. Wilner: "Clearly, Scott did not take the most profitable course -- and he never intended to." Scott said there "wasn't as much pressure on the financial side" due to the conference's 12-year, $3B deal with ESPN and Fox. Scott: "The focus was what was best for the conference long-term." Still, Wilner wrote "by all appearances, Time Warner is driving the bus on this." Scott's two guests on the teleconference to announce the deal yesterday were TWC Chair & CEO Glenn Britt and Exec VP & Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer, "who was credited by Scott for devising the regional network plan" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 7/27). CABLEFAX DAILY writes TWC's "fingerprints are all over the deal," which "includes TV Everywhere rights" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 7/28). In Washington, John Blanchette writes Scott's "bold strokes -- expansion, which birthed a football championship game, and the earlier TV deal -- meant a windfall" for the conference. But Pac-12 schools "won't realize any immediate revenue from this brainchild," and instead are "betting on the come." Meanwhile, Blanchette noted the "Conference of Champions is morphing into the Conference of Co-Operatives" as a result of the deals with the various cable providers. But "until further notice, if you own a dish you're out of luck." Blanchette: "Seems like more than a trivial shortcoming" (Spokane SPOKESMAN-REVIEW, 7/28).
NO NEW REVENUES TO SCHOOLS: In a release trumpeting the launch of the Pac-12 Network, Univ. of California AD Sandy Barbour noted that the rights fee received from the network agreement "will be completely dedicated to the production, infrastructure and personnel requirements of operating the network." Although there is "potential for financial upside, the long-term financial benefit to Pac-12 institutions is unknown at this time and will be based on future distribution and advertising opportunities" Conference campuses in the short term "are not expected to receive any new revenue from the networks" (Univ. of California).
Last night's episode of Showtime’s "The Franchise: A Season With The San Francisco Giants" prominently featured 1B Aubrey Huff, including a scene in which Huff was on the receiving end of a clubhouse practical joke. Huff was told that his credit card had been stolen and someone charged $23,000 in Tijuana. P Brian Wilson told Huff, “I don’t think you can buy drugs on a credit card, so that’s already out.” It was revealed later that Team Travel Coordinator Michael King and RF Cody Ross were playing a joke on Huff. Ross told King to tell Huff “they were trying to buy a bunch of explosives.” Huff said of the stress created by the lack of his offensive production this season, “This team’s definitely taken about 10 years off my life. I’m sure of it.” The Giants' propensity to play close games was also examined, as the narrator said the Giants "lead the major leagues in comeback wins and fittingly, nearly half their wins have been by one run.” Giants Senior VP & GM Brian Sabean: “Last year, if we were a band of misfits, this year we’re a bunch of cockroaches. You can’t kill us off.” After another close game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, “Games like this is why they make alcohol” ("The Franchise," Showtime, 7/27).
BASEBALL, REALITY TV NOT A GOOD FIT: In Sacramento, Scott Lebar wrote under the header, "'The Franchise': Time Is Not On Its Side." The reality show format and MLB's "unclocked, season-defined-as-we-go world make for a bad fit." That is not the case with HBO's "Hard Knocks," as the "sharp football reality show" is "finite." "The Franchise" is "hard to follow, meandering because baseball does, its storylines shape-shifting over the long season" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/25).
ESPN's Jalen Rose yesterday in Michigan was handed a jail sentence for drunken driving, "but was given until Tuesday to report to the Oakland County Jail." Rose was sentenced to 93 days, but state District Court Judge Kimberly Small said that he "must serve only the first 20 days behind bars." The rest "will be held in abeyance if he completes an alcohol awareness program and attends alcohol impact sessions with the victims and survivors of drunken driving incidents during one year of probation" (DETNEWS.com, 7/27).
OVERDOING IT A LITTLE? In London, Hough & Magnay report the BBC yesterday "sent almost 10 times as many staff as its main news rival to cover an event marking one year until the start" of the '12 London Games. A "total of 250 BBC staff were accredited." One of those individuals criticized the net for sending a "cast of thousands" and for a "complete overkill." But the BBC said that its staff "used the event as a training exercise because as the host broadcaster it will [provide] feeds during the games for television networks across the globe" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/28).
IT'S COMPLICATED: In Houston, David Barron notes "on the programming front, ESPN and Texas are marching in lockstep toward Aug. 26, when the Longhorn Network will go on the air as the first network devoted to one school." But ESPN also has sued UT "over a request by ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne to obtain correspondence, under the Texas Open Records Act, from UT-Austin president Bill Powers during the summer of 2010 when it appeared the Big 12 Conference was about to implode." Barron writes it is "another example of the scope of ESPN." ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys said the net has "business relationships with many high-profile sports entities, and at the same time our news side aggressively covers them." Soltys: "This is just the latest example" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/28).
NOTES: The GLOBE & MAIL's Susan Krashinsky reported Rogers Communications "has acquired 100 per cent of Setanta Sports Canada, a 24-hour television channel dedicated mainly to rugby and soccer matches, including the rights to popular" EPL games. The net is a "pay-television channel and will continue under its current financial model in which viewers pay an extra free for its programming." It will be rebranded as Sportsnet World on Oct. 3 (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/27)....Universal Sports debuted on DirecTV yesterday, "the same day it launched its 'Countdown to London'" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 7/28).