Scott Announces Pac-12 Network

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott today formally announced the formation of the Pac-12 Network, and for the first time, some of the details about how the network will be structured.

Pac-12 Networks, which will include a national network and six regional networks, in conjunction with four of the nation's largest cable operators: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks.

In addition to broadly distributing the Pac-12 Networks, the four cable operators are utilizing "iN DEMAND" to provide certain production and operations services to the Pac-12 Networks utilizing additional distribution technology. The content will continue to be wholly owned by the Pac-12 Conference.

The six regional networks will be established in Northern California, Southern California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Mountain regions (covering, but not exactly limited to Utah and Colorado)

Pac-12 Networks eventually will telecast a total of 850 live events annually, 350 on the national feed, and 500 on the regional feeds. The coverage will include every football game and every men's basketball game that isn't carried by national telecast partners. Additional events will include spring games football, and every sport played by Pac-12 programs including all conference championships.

The initial 4 partners will reach approximately 45 million homes nationwide, 23 million of which are served by Comcast, and 14 million by Time Warner. Bright House brings an additional 2 million, and Cox an additional 6 million.

This arrangement, aimed at the major metropolitan centers (Time Warner has a large presence in the LA area, while Comcast has a large share of the Bay Area, and significant penetration in the core areas of the Portland and Seattle markets), of course freezes out the majority of the footprint in Oregon and Washington, where Comcast can't be had at any price.

The expectation seems to be that further negotiations are underway that will get secondary coverage on the major satellite carriers, primarily Directv, and hopefully Dish Network. If you have Hughes net, don't hold your breath.

Comcast of course has over the years turned down millions of dollars rather than let Directv air their original content.

Fortunately, it is the Pac-12 that controls the rights, and may be able to achieve a deal, though Comcast, and to a degree Time Warner, will want to protect their investment and position in the market. To what degree the agreement with the Conference gives them any sway in further distribution is unknown, and likely to remain so.

Commissioner Scott, of course, will want a much wider audience than the 45 million the cable carriers reach, and owning the rights to three football games per week will give the conference considerable leverage with cable and satellite operators. This is why the Conference built the stockpile of football inventory by instituting the draft of games with the major carriers, Fox and ESPN.

The big loser in this would appear to be the Fox Regional Networks, and their spun-off regions that became Root Sports, which happens to include the Northwest and the Rocky Mountain area.

Keep watching in the weeks to come, as Scott continues to wheel and deal at an unprecedented pace.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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