Pac-12: Gary Stevenson

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- Pac-12 media day begins with commissioner Larry Scott and Pac-12 Enterprises president Gary Stevenson.

Some quick-hit notes.
  • Scott: Notes Pac-12's nine NCAA championships in 2011-12 -- most in country -- 451 total in history of conference. Also most in nation.
  • Scott: 239 former Pac-12 athletes headed to Olympic games.

  • Scott: Pac-12 won 89 medals in 2008 Olympics.
  • Pac-12 will be part of U.S.-China sports week.
  • Scott on four-team playoff: "a very positive step for our sport" ... "I believe we crafted a very artful balance, giving fans what they want... while also preserving regular season and bowl tradition."
  • Scott on new TV deals, Pac-12 Networks: "Our programs will receive unprecedented national exposure."
  • Scott calls Pac-12 "Strongest and deepest conference in many years."
  • Scott welcomes four new coaches: Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, Arizona State's Todd Graham, UCLA's Jim Mora and Washington State's Mike Leach.
  • Stevenson: "It is one year since [Scott] announced invention of our networks."
  • Stevenson: "We don't think about just a television network, we're creating a content company... Delivering to any screen, when they want it."
  • Stevenson: "Pac-12 now will be available at launch."
  • Stevenson: Pac-12 Network will televise 35 games, including all teams at least once in first four weeks.
  • Stevenson: Will televise six games on opening weekend.
  • Stevenson: 30 minute preview shows on each team, and one hour conference-wide show during preseason.
  • Stevenson: Replay all 79 2011 games in 60-minute format during preseason.
  • Stevenson: Pac-12 rewind, Pac-12 playbook... several studio shows.
  • Stevenson: "We are ready to flip the switch at Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. PT"

Pac-12's new hire all about revenue

January, 11, 2012
Pac-12 Enterprises has named hired Bill Cella its chief revenue officer.

From the official release:
Bill Cella, one of the most accomplished and respected executives in the media industry, has been named Chief Revenue Officer for Pac-12 Enterprises, it was announced today. Cellawill be based in New York, but will spend considerable time in San Francisco as the company prepares for the launch of its television and digital networks in late summer 2012.

Cella brings a Hall of Fame pedigree and years of experience in media negotiation, programming creation and branded content to the Pac-12’s new diversified and integrated media and content company. He will design and implement long term strategies and oversee the management of all revenue generation for Pac-12 Enterprises, which includes the Pac-12Networks, Pac-12 Digital Network and Pac-12 Properties, the sponsorship, licensing and events management arm for the Conference.

“I have known Bill for more than 20 years and have admired his success at every stop along his remarkable career,” Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson said. “We are thrilled that he is joining our team and bringing his wealth of knowledge and deep understanding of the media and content business to the Pac-12. He is universally respected in all corners of the marketing and media world and his experience in the college sports world is a huge bonus to us.”

Cella joins the Pac-12 after guiding The Cella Group, a media sales representation company offering sales in both traditional and digital, consultations in media, as well as sports and entertainment representation. Prior to forming his own company in 2008, Cella spearheaded MAGNA Global, a unique media negotiation, research and programming unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies. He worked with Interpublic's media specialists, including Initiative, Universal McCann, and other Interpublic media agencies around the world. MAGNA represented approximately 25 billion dollars of aggregated media spending on behalf of clients from these agencies on a worldwide basis. The company was also an industry leader in research and analytics and produced Emmy Award winning programming under Cella’s guidance.

Before his six-year tenure leading MAGNA Global, Cella held the position of executive vice president, director of broadcast and programming for Universal McCann North America, where he was responsible for over $2 billion dollars of national broadcast time on network, cable and syndicated television. He joined McCann-Erickson in 1994 as director of national broadcast and programming for the company’s Coca-Cola client. In 1997 he was named executive vice president, director of national broadcast and programming for all of North America.

Prior to McCann, Cella worked for ABC for 15 years. He began his ABC career as an account executive for WXYZ-TV in Detroit. In 1985 he joined the ABC Television Network and rose to the position of vice president of sports sales before joining McCann-Erickson. His vast career in media has earned him many honors, including being recognized as a “Media Maven” twice by Advertising Age and induction into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2008.

“College athletics is a real passion of mine and being part of something this unique and innovative is a rare opportunity,” Cella said. “We are creating an unparalleled distribution footprint never before attributed to college conferences. With one National and six Regional Networks we will provide brands access to the alumni, their families and the rabid college sports enthusiasts on a daily basis. We will provide the continuity for promotions and long-term ad campaigns that brands require to sustain their visibility among their customers. I look forward to presenting to my client and agencyfriends all the attributes that a sponsorship of the new Pac-12 will provide their various brands.”

Pac-12 networks are taking shape

November, 21, 2011
Consider the alphabet soup of the Pac-12 football and basketball TV schedule. You hate it don't you? What channel is GHCTV? Does my cable company have that in Salem, Ore.?

That will be no more next fall. Pac-12 Enterprises president Gary Stevenson is going to make sure of that.

Every football and men's basketball game will be televised nationally. Not sitting in your living room? You will be able to see it on your cell phone or your tablet or that video chip implanted in your brain, if that's the next technological step.

"We have the ability to deliver our content to any screen known to mankind," Stevenson said.

Stevenson is a busy man. He's building a national network and six regional networks -- Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Southern California, Arizona and Mountain -- from the ground up. He's got to hire between 125 and 175 people and move them into a new building in the Bay Area. And they need to be ready to broadcast 850 sporting events -- 350 nationally and 500 regionally -- by August 2012.

The Pac-12, which also has a 12-year TV contract worth about $3 billion with ESPN and Fox, already has announced partnerships with cable companies Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Bright House that will distribute the networks. The next question: What about the satellite providers?

Answer: It's ongoing.

"We believe that our programming is compelling enough and that there is enough interest that the other affiliates will be interested in having serious conversations with us," Stevenson said. "But they have to decide that. That's not just us."

If you use a satellite provider and are concerned about getting the Pac-12 networks, Stevenson provided this bit of advice: "That would be a good question for them to ask their provider."

Stevenson much preferred to talk about what the Pac-12 Network already has.

"The level of distribution we already have by virtue of the agreement with the cable companies is unprecedented," he said. "Any fan that is in our footprint will have an opportunity to get our service at launch. Not any but the majority, which is very rare for a new network to be able to say this far in advance. Rather than focusing on what we don't have, the real focus is what we do have. There aren't many channels that launch with this much."

Pac-12 Enterprises also announced this month that it has reached an agreement that will give it control of third-tier TV rights -- games that are not picked up by the Pac-12’s primary media partners, Fox and ESPN -- as well as digital and sponsorship rights in the wireless and multiplatform video distributor categories. That means the conference will have total control of a lot of A-list content.

"We're building a content company, and any time you're building a content company, what you desire is to have the ability to distribute your content to all different forms of the media," Stevenson said. "It's unique in that we have the ability to distribute all our video content as we see fit. It gives you a lot of flexibility as to what you do, how you do it, when you do it and with which partners you do it."

Stevenson said the Pac-12 has a facility team in place -- architect, construction managers, system engineers -- and that an announcement on a home base for Pac-12 Enterprises should come within two to four weeks. Next on his docket is filling out senior leadership roles. The hiring of Brent Willman as senior vice president of finance and accounting has already been announced. He spent the past three years as senior vice president and chief financial officer for The Oprah Winfrey Network and Discovery Communications.

After facilities and management, another focus is sponsorship and advertising. Stevenson said he expects to reach agreements with eight to 12 corporate partners that will be involved across the enterprise.

Beyond personnel, infrastructure and corporate partnerships, there's content. What's the programming mix across seven networks? What about studio shows? And archived programming? There's also a concerted effort to not make the networks only about men's basketball and football. Broadcasting Olympic sports and features that provide background on less high-profile Pac-12 athletes also will be a priority.

Said Stevenson, "Don't forget the man or woman who puts on a soccer jersey."

Like we said: Stevenson is busy. A full plate, however, isn't muting his enthusiasm for what's ahead.

"There is a real consumer need and want for what we are going to do," he said. "People really want to watch every Pac-12 football game and every Pac-12 basketball game and a bunch of the Olympic sports."