July 27, 2011
BERKELEY - The Pac-12 Conference announced Wednesday the creation of Pac-12 Networks, an innovative arrangement that will provide unprecedented exposure for each of the league's institutions in both the athletic and academic realms. The agreement between the conference and four of the nation's largest cable operators includes a national network, as well as six regional networks.
"I'd like to congratulate Commissioner Scott and the conference office for this landmark agreement to form Pac-12 Networks," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. "This arrangement meets all of the objectives of greatly enhancing exposure, reach and brand, while providing a robust platform for our alumni and fans to access programming showcasing our great University and our incredible student-athletes. We are absolutely thrilled with the coverage that the networks will give all of our programs - from football and men's and women's basketball to each of our Olympic sports - in addition to creating a new opportunity to promote the outstanding features and accomplishments of our campus' comprehensive excellence."
Barbour added that the rights fee received from the agreement will be completely dedicated to the production, infrastructure and personnel requirements of operating the network. Although there is potential for financial upside, the long-term financial benefit to Pac-12 institutions is unknown at this time and will be based on future distribution and advertising opportunities. In the near term, the conference campuses are not expected to receive any new revenue from the networks.
In addition to broadly distributing the Pac-12 Networks, the four cable operators - Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks - are utilizing iN DEMAND to provide certain production and operations services to the Pac-12 Networks, which will continue to be wholly owned by the Pac-12 Conference.
The six regional networks will be established in the Northern California, Southern California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Mountain regions and will cater their programming to the interests of fans in those markets.
This transformative arrangement, set to begin in August 2012, marks the first time a U.S. collegiate conference or any other programmer has launched a collection of networks across a variety of platforms rather than a sole network. And it includes "TV everywhere" rights, permitting the networks to be viewed outside customers' homes on any digital device, such as smart phones and tablet computers, creating a virtual "Pac-12 Everywhere."
Expressing his excitement with the new agreement, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott 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."
Pac-12 Media Enterprises, a new entity announced in May along with new major national broadcast and cable partners for the conference, is expected to eventually generate distribution arrangements covering satellite and telco transmission.
Pac-12 Networks eventually will telecast a total of 850 live events annually - 350 on the national feed and 500 on the regional feeds - including every football game and every men's basketball game that isn't carried by ESPN or FOX. Additional events will include spring football, and every sport played by Pac-12 programs plus all conference championships. The Pac-12 also will be working to launch additional content on broadband.
The agreement will provide unprecedented exposure for women's sports, as well as exposure for both men's and women's programs that have been traditionally underserved on television. This includes extensive coverage of Pac-12 athletes in Olympic sports, where the Pac-12 has had more success than any other U.S. conference. Over 200 Pac-12 athletes competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and if the Pac-12 were its own country it would have finished sixth in the total medal count.
Pac-12 Networks will feature extensive educational, academic and lifestyle programming from the Pac-12 institutions, some of the most renowned and recognizable higher education institutions in the world. Programming will extend beyond athletics to other subjects of interest to students, faculty, alumni and fans of the Pac-12 universities.
Through this agreement Pac-12 Networks will be available nationwide to almost 40 million cable customers. Within the Pac-12 Conference's six-state footprint, Pac-12 Networks will be broadly distributed and available to Pac-12's far-flung alumni and fans across the country.