Pac-12 to launch regional, national networks

850 events will be broadcast annually on national, six regional networks to be owned by Pac-12.

When commissioner Larry Scott promised to put every Pac-12 football and men's basketball game on television, no one could have imagined the form it would take.

Scott announced Wednesday that the conference will create, own and operate six regional networks in addition to a national network that will all launch in August 2012.

"With the creation of the Pac-12 Networks, our fans will be able to see sporting events in ways they never have before," Scott said in a press conference at Chelsea Market in New York City.

Under the 12-year deal with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks, each state or geographic pairing will have its own network. USC, for example, would have its games and programming on Pac-12 Southern California with cross-town rival UCLA.

"These regional networks will allow us to super-serve our fans," Scott said, with an emphasis on Olympic sports and other specialized programming.

The Pac-12 Networks will broadcast some 850 live sporting events a year, with 350 on the nation network and another 500 spread across the regional networks. That includes 35 football games and 100 men's basketball games not covered by national television contracts with ESPN and Fox, as well as all 12 spring football games.

"This will allow us to deliver on our promise to fans to bring all our football and basketball games nationally," Scott said later in a conference call with reporters.

The networks could also result in a huge windfall for the conference and its members, already bolstered by the $3 billion, 12-year extension the Pac-12 signed with ESPN and Fox in May. While financial terms were not disclosed, the Big Ten Network distributed nearly $8 million to each school this past year, but is a joint venture between the Big Ten and Fox, which owns 49 percent.

The Pac-12 will retain full ownership of the seven properties, but must also absorb start-up costs.

It must also establish a foothold nationally, offset by the 40 million households its four cable partners will bring initially.

Scott said negotiations to bring the Pac-12 Networks to satellite and telephone providers would be considered in the future, but also pointed to widespread digital distribution, making games available on smart phones and tablets.

Programming on the networks will be controlled by the conference with input from members and is likely to consist of a mix of live sporting events, classic games and original programming, such as coaches shows. Scott reiterated that the Pac-12 Networks would broadcast high school sports if allowed by the NCAA.

He declined to say how the networks would balance journalism with promotion for the conference and members.

Most details about the venture were not immediately available, not a surprise given the timing. Scott said he thought it would take several more weeks to finalize the agreement and spoke in generalities at Pac-12 Media Day on the Fox Studios lot Tuesday.

"This is the start," Scott said Wednesday. "This is a critical foundation for us."


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