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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Pac-12 to launch national network

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Even during its run to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game game last season, Oregon played one contest that wasn't televised.

Ducks coach Chip Kelly will no longer have to hedge when out-of-state recruits' parents ask if they'll be able to watch their sons on TV. The Pac-12 announced Wednesday that it was launching its own networks.

"Instead of saying, 'As long as we're playing well, we're on TV,' it's a guarantee now that every game is available," Kelly said.

The location of the announcement was appropriate: Commissioner Larry Scott made it while holding a media day far from the Pacific in New York City for the second straight year. The nationwide network and the cross-country trips are part of Scott's grand plan to raise the conference's profile all over America.

The new venture is actually the Pac-12 Networks, plural. There will be a national channel along with six regional offerings: Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Southern California, Arizona and Mountain.

Scott called it "a truly unique, one-of-a-kind initiative to create exposure that's unprecedented." The Big Ten showed the value of a conference network when it launched one in 2007, but this is the first to combine national and regional channels.

The Pac-12 partnered with cable companies Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Bright House to distribute the networks but wholly owns them.

Once the channels launch in August 2012, they will broadcast about 850 sporting events a year -- 350 nationally and 500 regionally. Subscribers will also be able to watch games on mobile devices.

Every football and men's basketball game will be televised nationally. The conference already had a 12-year TV contract worth about $3 billion with Fox and ESPN, which will air many of the most high-profile games.

The networks will initially be available to almost 40 million homes, more than one-third of the nation's households with televisions. Scott said the conference would look to add more providers.