Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Pac-12: All football, basketball games on TV
By Ted Miller
PHOENIX -- Said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: Game on.
As in: Every Pac-12 football and men's basketball game will be televised on either ESPN, Fox Sports or a new Pac-12 network, according to the new television contract the conference announced Wednesday.
Starting in 2012, there will be 44 football games shown on ESPN and Fox, including eight games per season on Thursday and Friday nights. The Pac-12 Network will show 36 football games.
Scott wouldn't -- nor would representatives from ESPN and Fox Sports on hand for the news conference formerly announcing the conference's new mega-broadcast deal -- talk about the terms of the 12-year agreement, but it's been widely reported as averaging about $250 million annually, which breaks down to about $21 million per program.
Which is a bit more than the $45 million that was unevenly distributed in past years.
Scott also announced the formation of Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12 Digital Network and Pac-12 Properties. Details of the network, such as how and where it will be distributed, haven't been worked out as of yet, but Scott said he was confident it would prove a successful venture.
"It's going to be distributor friendly," Scott said.
Scott said there were three areas of emphasis that the conference focused on during the negotiation process: 1. Increasing revenue; 2. Increasing exposure; 3. Establishing a network. Fair to say all three were accomplished.
Money, obviously, is the way contracts are measured, but Scott said the dramatically improved exposure was a top priority.
"That was always paramount to every discussion we had," Scott said.
Further, the increased revenue isn't just about football and basketball. For many athletic departments struggling with finances, some non-revenue sports will get a second-life, as well as more exposure.
"This announcement today has saved sports -- student-athlete opportunities -- that would have been cut," said Scott, who called the new deal "a game-changer in Olympic sports."
Scott was asked if it was meaningful that the conference eclipsed TV deals previously signed by the SEC and Big Ten.
"We didn't look at it from a competitive standpoint," he said, before adding, "It was a very dynamic landscape right now."
In other words, the conference benefited from a perfect climate to have a major conference's media rights for sale.
- Understand: The money distribution won't be $250 million in 2012. That's the average over 12 years. But the distribution number will exceed $170 million in the first year, which was the threshold for having to pay USC and UCLA $2 million for their willingness to go along with equal revenue sharing.
- Games will be picked on a week-by-week basis by ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 network. The Pac-12 network won't always get the last choice and some weeks will have first choice, according to Scott.
- Ten of the regular-season football games will be network broadcasts by ABC or Fox, with a "substantial commitment for primetime coverage." The remaining 34 games will be split between ESPN, ESPN2, FX and ESPNU. An average of three games per week will be on the Pac-12 network.
- The conference championship game will be on Fox this season and then will alternate between Fox and ESPN.
- A big change: Instead of competing with other conference championship games, the Pac-12 game will be on primetime TV on Friday night.
- Another big winner: basketball: 68 men’s games will be shown on either ESPN or Fox and every other game will fall to the conference network.
- ESPN will broadcast the first basketball tournament, then it will rotate between ESPN and Fox.
- The Pac-12 network is scheduled to begin operation in August of 2012.
- To clarify: Utah doesn't get a full share in 2012. It gets 50 percent, then 75 percent in 2013. It will be a full partner in 2014.
- Scott said the network would include non-sports, academic programming. And that it would not just serve as a media advocate for the conference, it could be "potentially self-critical."