SBD/August 15, 2012/Media

Lights, Camera, Action! Pac-12 Networks Go Live Tonight

The Pac-12 Conference at 6:00pm PT today “will turn on its much-anticipated television networks and instantaneously transform the viewing experience for fans of a league that has long wallowed in the broadcasting shadows,” according to Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The Pac-12 “isn't the first college conference to have a dedicated television network,” but the S.F.-based Pac-12 Networks, with “their seven feeds, are unprecedented in scope, complexity and control of the content.” The Pac-12 “won't release its total but has already signed carriage agreements with cable companies capable of reaching 48 million homes.” Industry sources estimate that the Pac-12 Networks “could distribute $10 million per year per school in a few years, when distribution and advertising are fully ramped.” The Pac-12 Networks currently “don't have carriage agreements with either of the major satellite operators, DirecTV or Dish Network.” But negotiations “are ongoing, and commissioner Larry Scott is optimistic a deal will be struck with at least one of the satellite carriers.” The conference was able to “create the networks it wanted, not the networks it needed” because of the “financial cushion provided by the ESPN and Fox deals” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/14). In Arizona, Patrick Finley writes the Pac-12 Networks will help Scott “accomplish a long-time goal: to make every single football and men's basketball game available live, without regional pre-emption, across the country.” Scott said, "It's near-impossible to quantify the impact, in terms of exposure, recruiting and brand positioning, for our schools athletically." The league “stands to gain what Scott called ‘long-term value,’ financially and otherwise” (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 8/15). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes the launch of the networks is “built to be one of those game-changing moments.” What will “force most TV partners to finally relent in one way or another is when college football games locked into the Pac-12 Networks schedule start arriving, and viewers begin complaining they can't see them” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/15).

COX CARRIAGE: Cox PR Dir of Residential Products & Services and Corporate Social Responsibility Amy Quinn confirmed that the cable provider “will only show the Pac12Nets/Los Angeles feed on its Southern California systems.” The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’ Wilner noted that means the national Pac-12 network “won’t be available in Orange County, Palos Verdes, Santa Barbara or San Diego.” However, Quinn noted, “With TV Everywhere, customers can get the other games online. There’s not a lot of value-add for us to use two channels.” Quinn also confirmed that Cox “will only show the regional feed in Arizona -- no national network, just like in Southern California.” Quinn confirmed that Cox “won’t show any of the Pac12Nets feeds outside the league’s six-state footprint, with the exception of Cox systems in Las Vegas, Sun Valley, Kansas, Arkansas and Omaha” (MERCURYNEWS.com, 8/14).

WHO’S GOING TO WATCH? In L.A., Joe Flint wrote the new channels for USC and UCLA fans “are great news,” but for the “rest of the region, it's just more sports programming driving up costs.” L.A. already has “Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West.” Time Warner Cable in the fall “launches its two sports channels -- one in English and one in Spanish.” TWC secured the rights to the Lakers and the MLS Galaxy and “is hoping to snag the Dodgers as well.” The price tag is “just under $4 per subscriber and Time Warner Cable wants the channels distributed to everyone as opposed to putting them in a package for sports fans.” This means that “in just a few months, Los Angeles will go from having two regional sports networks to five.” If the Dodgers “decide to start their own, then there would be six” (LATIMES.com, 8/14). In Oakland, Monte Poole writes, “Not enough folks in the Bay Area and California care deeply about local college sports. Non-alums, locally or nationally, rarely identify with the schools. Almost no lives revolve around their athletic programs.” The “same applies, for the most part, to folks from Los Angeles and Phoenix and, to a lesser extent, even those in Seattle and Eugene, Ore.” Young athletes on the West Coast “tend to dream not in the colors of local colleges but those of teams in the NFL or the NBA” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 8/15).
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