SBD/August 10, 2012/Media

Pac-12 Networks To Debut Next Week; Talks With Additional Providers Ongoing

The Pac-12 Conference next Wednesday will launch the Pac-12 Networks, “one of the grandest, boldest -- and potentially, most lucrative -- experiments in college sports," according to Jeffrey Martin in a sports section cover story of USA TODAY. It is a TV "enterprise completely owned and controlled” by the Pac-12. In addition, the conference will be launching a new website, Pac-12.com, "also debuting Wednesday.” Martin writes, “It’s about mobile. It’s about money.” Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson said, “We don’t think just about a television network or a digital network, but rather, we’re creating a content company.” The TV portion will debut “with at least Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House and the National Cable Television Cooperative on board.” Talks with other video programming providers, “including DirecTV, Dish, AT&T and Verizon, are ongoing.” The venture has been “compared to the Big Ten Network," and the Pac-12 "studied its colleague’s model.” But unlike the Pac-12's setup, Fox "owns 51% of the Big Ten Network, with the league owning 49%.” The Pac-12 has “no partner in this project, meaning its start-up costs will be substantial but revenue and decision-making won’t have to be shared outside the league.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, “It’s a premier offering. I think we had the benefit from learning from the Big Ten, the things they did well and the things they’d improve upon. But we’re different. There is no other financial master to serve.” Martin writes if the network is “lucrative, anything at all approaching the windfall the Big Ten has enjoyed since the inception of its network in 2007, it should enable Pac-12 schools to accomplish important competitive and financial goals” (USA TODAY, 8/10).

GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME: In California, Jim Carlisle writes, "It hasn’t always been easy to find the Pac-12 on TV, but that won't be the case anymore.” Regionalization of the conference's football games “is a thing of the past.” In addition to the Pac-12 Network airing 35 games, a new $3B, 12-year contract with ESPN and Fox "will have those networks showing 44 more games nationally.” Every men's basketball game “will also air either on Fox, ESPN or the Pac-12 Networks and there will be much more coverage of women's basketball and other men's and women's sports that have [been] ignored by television.” Stevenson said that 350 events “will be shown on all seven networks.” Also, about 50 more events per school "will be shown regionally” (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 8/10). In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes under the header, “Pac-12 Networks Offer Viewer Paradise.” The conference “has yet to come to terms with several big-name distributors,” but sources said that the “odds are good that agreements with many of those providers will be reached by the start of football season, which is late August.” Stevenson said, "Any conversation we've had with them has been encouraging. And it's encouraging because they believe we have very good content” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/10).
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