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Volume 20 No. 46
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Local TV rights to cost Pac-12 at least $15M

The local TV rights the Pac-12 needs from each school to create a channel will cost the conference anywhere from $15 million to $20 million next year.

Local TV rights include any games involving Pac-12 schools that are not picked up by the league’s media partners. Nonconference games are the property of the home team.

The Pac-12 signed a new 12-year contract worth $250 million annually with Fox and ESPN recently, and that deal will begin in 2012-13.

Pac-12 rights holders

IMG College: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, UCLA, Washington, Washington State

Learfield Sports: Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford

CBS Collegiate: Utah

Southern Cal manages its rights in-house

Most games not picked up by Fox or ESPN will move to the conference’s channel, which is expected to be ready for launch in fall 2012. The conference is in the process of selecting a partner or multiple partners to manage the channel and assist with distribution. Larry Scott, the Pac-12’s commissioner, has said the conference will own the channel.

But in order to get the local TV rights to those games that don’t appear on ESPN or Fox, the conference must pay for them. Those rights now belong to each school’s multimedia rights holder and the terms of those agreements vary, although most are long term.

Part of the talks between the Pac-12 and those rights holders centers on how long the league will have to pay for the local rights and when that $15 million to $20 million might start to go down.

The league has been in discussions with those three multimedia rights holders for the past month to determine what the local TV rights are worth. The schools have asked the conference to negotiate the fee for the rights on their behalf.

Industry sources say the local rights are valued at an average of $1 million to $2 million a school for the 12 schools. Some schools have a higher value, while Stanford doesn’t have local TV rights in its multimedia deal with Learfield.

In the past, the rights holders have monetized those unclaimed games by broadcasting them locally or selling them on pay-per-view.

The Pac-12’s Scott declined comment on the negotiations.

Southern Cal, the lone school that has not outsourced its rights, has been in exclusive negotiations with Fox about a multimedia deal for the school. Local TV rights are not a part of those discussions.