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Volume 21 No. 22
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Pac-12 Networks make moves in preparation for rights to hit market

The Pac-12 Conference’s media rights deals with ESPN and Fox Sports don’t end until the spring of 2023, but the conference already is making moves to prepare for those negotiations.

 

The conference’s Pac-12 Networks hired Larry Meyers from Spectrum Sports to be executive vice president of content. One of Meyers’ main tasks will be to set the conference and its network up for when those rights hit the market, said Pac-12 Networks President Mark Shuken. He starts March 5.

“Larry’s job will be to adjust and adapt our content to prepare for the next iteration of rights agreements in 2023,” Shuken said. “We hired him to align our team and align our vision with that.”

That means combining the linear television group with the digital group so that both operate as one group. To that end, Pac-12 Networks promoted Sam Silverstein to vice president of editorial, where he will oversee all content that comes out of Pac-12 Networks, regardless of whether it’s for TV or for digital. Silverstein had been head of digital content. He will report to Meyers.

“As we enter 2018, the time is now to combine the two and not have linear and digital as separate businesses,” Meyers said.

Shuken said these moves will benefit the conference the next time its media rights come up, a time when he expects digital media companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google to be more interested in picking up rights.

“They are all trying to get sports rights,” Shuken said. “Our job is to create interest for all distributors. … Sports TV has been too slow to adapt to the future. We know where fans are and where they want their content.”

Pac-12 Networks produce 850 games — more than 600 of which are not football or men’s basketball. They are trying to figure out how to distribute some of those games — as well as the shoulder programming supporting them — on some of these digital platforms.

“We’re going to see a lot more engagement for Pac-12 events through social media,” Meyers said.