SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Media

Fox Sports Net near deal with Big West

Agreement would provide content for new FS San Diego

Fox Sports Net is close to a multiyear media deal with the Big West Conference, and while it’s certainly not the biggest college deal around, there are ancillary benefits for the media company that extend beyond conference programming.

For Fox Sports, the deal is as much about trying to gain distribution for its newest regional sports network, Fox Sports San Diego, as anything else.

Launched earlier this spring with San Diego Padres games, FS San Diego has had problems convincing one of the biggest distributors in the region — Time Warner Cable — to carry it.

Enter the Big West Conference, which will feature 14 San Diego State sports — minus football — starting in 2013. The school has said that it will join the Big West in 14 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, starting with the 2013-14 season. Those games will be featured on FS San Diego, and the network hopes the games will be a draw for local viewers.

The Big West currently is made up of Cal Poly, UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Hawaii, Long Beach State and Pacific. Those games will be featured on FSN’s California-based RSNs, including FS West and Prime Ticket.

The Aztecs’ football team will not be part of the Big West, opting to compete in the Big East. Those football rights are not part of this deal and must be negotiated separately.

Southern California has become the country’s most hotly contested market for sports media rights.

Time Warner Cable picked up rights to the Lakers early last year. Fox Sports previously had those rights. This fall, Time Warner Cable plans to launch two regional sports channels around the Lakers — one in English and one in Spanish.

Meanwhile, Fox picked up the rights to the Padres in San Diego earlier this year. Cox previously held those rights.

This past spring, Fox launched a new regional sports network in San Diego around the Padres. It has not been able to convince Time Warner Cable to pick up the channel.

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