Since when did the Pac-12 become such a trailblazer?
<p>Yes, they encompass some of the most academically and visually attractive institutions in the nation and, yes, they absolutely dominate the Olympic sports but ever since the sports television boom back in the 1990s, the Pac-12, formerly the Pac-10, has always been an afterthought.
<p>On Wednesday in New York, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced the much-anticipated creation of the Pac-12 Network, set to launch in August 2012. But the Pac-12 Network isn't your typical Big Ten Network or The Longhorn Network sports channel…this is a whole new ballgame.
<p>For the past couple of months, since Scott announced his conference's innovative national football and men's basketball broadcast rights partnership with ESPN and Fox, rumors escalated as to what Scott was planning to do with the Pac-12 Network.
<p>Well, now we know.
<p>The Pac-12 Network will be split into one primary national network and six regional sports networks (much like your Fox Sports' RSNs and your Comcast RSNs). The six RSNs will pair up schools in the same area: – Washington (Washington and Washington State) – Oregon (Oregon and Oregon State) – Northern California (Cal and Stanford) – Southern California (USC and UCLA) – Arizona (Arizona and Arizona State) – Mountain (Colorado and Utah)
<p>"This is an attempt through… the cable industry to super-serve fans in a hyper-local way,_" said Scott.
<p>Among other highlights in the Pac-12 Network package is the fact that every football and men's basketball game (between ESPN, Fox, FX, and the Pac-12 Networks) will be available to a national audience and that 350 games will be televised on the national network and 500 more on the regional networks.
<p>But the major coup (and yes, I'm calling it a coup because it defies conventional media logic) is the fact that Scott was able to obtain Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, and Bright House as distribution partners a year before launch, especially considering how much trouble the Big Ten Network and the NFL Network ran into during their first few years of operation.
<p>These cable providers (blanketing the Pac-12's television markets and covering other major markets including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington D.C.) will have the national network available on digital basic cable in Pac-12 markets and on digital sports tiers in non-Pac-12 markets while the RSNs will be carried on expanded basic cable in respective markets (i.e. Pac-12 Southern California will be available in Southern California on basic cable but Pac-12 Arizona will not be available unless you purchase the digital sports tier).
<p>Furthermore, how Scott was able to maintain 100% ownership of the Pac-12 Network is truly mind-boggling.
<p>While the creation of the Pac-12 Network is truly ground-breaking (Scott also said he plans on emphasizing mobile and video-on-demand viewing), several caveats appear as well.
<p>For one, the ESPN-Fox Sports national broadcasting will eat up much of the premier football and men's basketball games, leaving the less appealing contests to the Pac-12 Networks (although, the Pac-12 Network will get first choice among football games in select weeks). This means women's basketball, baseball, softball, and the Olympic sports will eat up much of the 850 games expected on the Pac-12 Family of Networks. While there is a plenty of room for original programming, do expect a lot of replayed games, coach and highlight shows, and school and paid programming to fill in time slots on the RSNs.
<p>Secondly, in my opinion, Scott still needs to get the satellite companies on board sooner rather than later. Even with complete exposure in "Pac-12 country" and with 48 million viewers nationwide via the cable providers, the satellite companies offer another lucrative platform for the Pac-12 Network. Getting DirecTV and Dish Network should be a primary concern for Scott over the next year (Fios and U-Verse should also be on his list).
<p>In an era where sports continue to be scattered amongst networks in order to make the most money and where RSNs are popping up everywhere (the Lakers and Celtics are the newest to join the ranks of the Yankees, Mets, and Longhorns in dedicated RSNs), the Pac-12 Network both follows suit with and trail-blazes the sports media landscape.
<p>Let's see how the industry reacts.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
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