Pac-12 Networks Brings On Former TWC, DirecTV Exec Mark Shuken As Next President
The Pac-12 has picked an RSN vet to head up its Pac-12 Networks. MARK SHUKEN, a former Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Liberty Media and Fox Sports exec, will become the third president in Pac-12 Nets' five-year history, following GARY STEVENSON, who left in '13, and LYDIA MURPHY-STEPHANS, who stepped down in June. "It’s hard to imagine someone who has more experience in this space,” Pac-12 Commissioner LARRY SCOTT said. “He’s worked for distributors like Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, so he certainly understands the mindset, dynamics and culture in those types of companies.” Shuken starts Sept. 6 and will be based in S.F. He will report to Scott, who used JIM CITRIN of exec search firm Spencer Stuart to fill the position. Scott said he started considering Shuken following a referral from a mutual friend, who is a top Fox Sports exec. Scott said he is especially excited at Shuken’s already existing relationships with Pac-12 schools, particularly ones in areas where he has run RSNs, including the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. Shuken left TWC's sports division last fall, a few months after Charter’s $65B acquisition. He walks into a position that has been somewhat of a mixed bag. The one national and six regional channels have fulfilled a promise by producing up to 850 live sporting events each year and has been profitable every year, conference execs say. But the nets have struggled in comparison to similar channels from the Big Ten and SEC -- both from revenue and distribution standpoints -- due to distribution problems. DirecTV has never carried any of the Pac-12 Nets. Ironically, Shuken’s most recent job was overseeing TWC's L.A.-based RSNs, which include Spectrum SportsNet LA, which has its own set of distribution problems and has not convinced DirecTV to carry it.
LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE: Scott has his eye on '24, when his conference's media deals are up. "Our newborn phase is over," Scott said. "Now it’s about getting to the next level." Until then, he expects Shuken to grow all aspects of the business, from distribution to marketing to new tech. Shuken will be responsible for cutting deals like the one Pac-12 has with Twitter. He also will be responsible for developing relationships with the relevant media companies that will be looking to bid on sports in '24. "It feels like whoever the major players are going to be, it will emerge by then," Scott said. "A lot of big rights come up right before us." Shuken plans to spend his first 100 days visiting the conference’s campuses and getting to know the presidents and ADs. He also said he is looking to build a culture within the net and "better connect the networks to the conference’s objectives."