A day after implying during an interview at the conference’s annual media day in L.A. that an announcement about a Pacific-12 Network was still a ways off, commissioner Larry Scott told a New York press conference at an East Coast media day that it’s all been pulled together.
A deal that the conference calls “innovative” and “transformative” in its press release, the Pac-12 Network will begin in August, 2012 as a two-pronged entity — one nationally distributed, and six regional networks in Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, and the Mountain regions that are directly linked with Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks.
The Pac-12 would own the channels as Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which would also expand to wireless services.
Some 40 million cable TV homes will be in play here with about 850 conference events — 350 nationally, and 500 on the local channels that will be basic digital. The national channel would be available on a sports tier, charging viewers extra fees. DirecTV appears to be one of the national distributors of the channel, but that has not been announced.
“It’s such a unique opportunity,” Scott told the New York reporters. “We’ve had a national brand, but the tribal nature make college sports very local. So this is an attempt through the unique structure of our conference and the cable industry to super-serve fans in a hyper-local way.”
In the conference release, Scott also said: “As we explored the potential for a Pac-12 network, it became clear that we could customize programming towards local interests and provide our students, alumni, and many fans the widest possible range of events with the best opportunity to see the schools they care about most.”
This is all in addition the Pac-12’s previously-announced 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox to carry football and basketball games starting in 2012.
“Larry Scott and his staff have again done an outstanding job in showcasing the conference with this model for the Pac-12 Network,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. “The idea of having both national and regional platforms, as well as multiple cable partners, will give fans a greater opportunity to follow the accomplishments of our student-athletes in all sports.
“There is obviously a lot to learn in the next few months but it is clear that the young men and women who compete at UCLA and other Pac-12 institutions will receive television exposure like never before and that is very exciting.
“In addition, the network will provide opportunities to highlight the academic success of our student-athletes as well as the overall academic accomplishments of this outstanding university. This will be a great showcase for UCLA.”
USC athletic director Pat Haden: “Kudos to commissioner Larry Scott and the Pac-12 staff for the work they did in putting together this visionary broadcasting opportunity. It will be an invaluable benefit to all 12 conference institutions.
“For us, the Pac-12 Networks will provide great exposure for our 640 student-athletes and will give us a unique platform to deliver our message about USC’s athletic and academic programs. Trojan fans across the country will be able to watch all of our 21 sports, not just football and basketball. If you are a parent of a Trojan student-athlete, no matter where you reside you will be able to watch your son or daughter compete. It’s a great boon for our Olympic sports, where so many more people will be able to witness our unparalleled tradition of producing NCAA champions and Olympic medalists.
“I’m also excited about the network’s academic component and I look forward to working with our provost in developing programming that tells the story of USC’s academic achievements.”
More to come …