What the Pac-12 Network means for WSU

THE PAC-12 NETWORK launches on Aug. 15. And for Washington State, the number of games and viewing options is set to explode.

WSU fans unable to attend games in person have been saddled over the years with the inability to see the Cougs play live. That all changes, dramatically so, this season.

There are still details to be finalized and unknowns aplenty, some of which may not be settled until just before the season opener, but the new constant is this: between ESPN, Fox and the new Pac-12 Network, every WSU football and mens' basketball game will be televised.

More and more Pac-12 Network news has been coming out in recent days, from sources like The Mercury News, Multi Channel, Corvallis Gazette Times and others. Some of the scheduling details were officially released yesterday. CF.C also asked WSU Sports Information Director Bill Stevens to weigh in.

"This puts us on a level playing field with all the schools in the conference, which hasn't been the case for a very long time, if ever," said Stevens. "The ability for Cougar fans to follow their favorite teams each week, whether they are in our venues or thousands of miles away, they will be able to connect with us like never before. That is a huge asset to have when growing your brand and expanding your fan base."

Here are the Pac-12 Network highlights, culled from the various sources...

All the Pac-12 football and men's basketball games will be shown live, at least regionally. They'll be replayed the following week on the national network during off hours.

The Pac-12 network will broadcast live 35 football and at least 120 men's basketball games (likely around 140). Olympic sports also will be featured prominently, both on live TV and the web.

The national network is expected to be available to about 40 million homes at the start, through Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications, (those numbers and providers could increase between now and the opener, more on that later.) The national network, says the Mercury news, will carry 350 live events all told, including all football and men's basketball games not shown on ESPN or Fox, plus hundreds of women's basketball and top-tier Olympic sports events.

WSU-EWU on Pac-12 Network; Apple Cup on either FOX or FX
Washington State's games against EWU was selected yesterday for broadcast on the Pac-12 network. The Apple Cup was also picked up and will be seen on either FOX of FX.

The broadcast of four Washington State football games, two road and two home, are now scheduled. The opener at BYU (8/30, 7:15 pm) will be seen on ESPN. The WSU-EWU matchup in Pullman (9/8, 12:00 pm) is on the Pac-12 Network. WSU at UNLV (9/14, 6:00 pm) will also be on ESPN. And the Apple Cup (11/23, 12:30 pm) is on either FOX or FX with the network destination to be decided either 12 or six days in advance.

All of the Cougs' remaining television game selections and start times will also be made 12 or six days in advance.

Season tickets, along with tickets for The Seattle Game, Sept. 29 versus Oregon at CenturyLink Field, are currently on sale to season ticket holders, donors to the Cougar Athletic Fund and subscribers to WSU's CougMail. Season tickets are available online at wsucougars.com or by phone at 1-800-GO-COUGS.. After Aug. 4, tickets will be made to available to Duck fans, who are expected to snap up large quantities of tickets if they still remain available.

"In my opinion the Pac-12 Network is going to provide a tremendous boost for Washington State Athletics, and the university as a whole," said Stevens. "Commissioner Larry Scott and his team have been visionary in their approach to the network which I believe will allow us to enter this first year far ahead of similar endeavors by the SEC and Big Ten networks in previous years."

There will be one national network and six regional networks, with Pac-12 Washington broadcasting both Washington State and UW content.

The six regional networks mapping the conference footprint: Washington (Washington State and Washington); in Oregon (Oregon State and Oregon); Northern California (Stanford and Cal); Southern California (USC and UCLA); Arizona (Arizona State and Arizona); and Mountain (Utah and Colorado).

"The network also provides us an avenue to highlight not only our student-athletes and coaches, but the unique qualities of our campus and surrounding area in the Pacific Northwest," said Stevens. "The impact it will have on recruiting for all our programs is going to be huge. To showcase our academic accomplishments, our facilities and the people that make up this great community, there is no more ideal college setting and atmosphere than Washington State University and that is what will be on display each and every week."

The Pac-12 Digital Network will enable subscribers of Pac-12 Network distributors to watch live content on connected devices via TV Everywhere authentication when the network debuts Aug. 15.

All on-air programming will go through the Pac-12, with the exception of two national football games a week, one each by ABC/ESPN and FOX. But the Pac 12 Networks will have the top or second choice of games in seven of 13 weeks. Root Sports will no longer carry WSU events.

Sharing between the various Pac-12 networks is expected to fill time 24 hours a day.

Comcast Cable is the main carrier in Washington. Other providers such as DirecTV and Dish Network, have not reached agreements with the Pac-12 yet.

The CEO of DirecTV recently told MediaPost: "We're not going to have seven channels — I can assure you of that."

If prior negotiations are any indication, a) don't take too much stock into the quotes and posturing that will be ongoing until an agreement is reached and b) the deals with DirecTV and Dish could come down to the wire and, in the public relations arena, turn nasty with accusations flying back and forth. More often than not, things tend to get settled at the 11th hour. But there also have been occasions when programming is interrupted or taken off a carrier. Bottom line if you're a DirecTV or Dish customer? Probably wait a while to see how things are playing out in mid-to-late August.

Sources indicate to multichannelnews.com that the Pac-12 is seeking a monthly license fee of between 90 cents and $1 within conference markets, and as much as 50 cents in other areas. An interesting point that has emerged in the media -- With all the new viewing options available and every game now being broadcast live, what will happen to attendance at Martin Stadium and around the Pac-12? Beat writers and columnists are expecting it to fall league-wide.

NOTABLE QUOTES:
  • "In my opinion the Pac-12 Network is going to provide a tremendous boost for Washington State Athletics, and the university as a whole. Commissioner Scott and his team have been visionary in their approach to the network which I believe will allow us to enter this first year far ahead of similar endeavors by the SEC and Big Ten networks in previous years," said Stevens.

  • "It is not just football and men's basketball that will benefit. All of our athletic programs will take great strides forward from the exposure and coverage for sports such as soccer, volleyball and baseball will increase dramatically from previous years," said Stevens.

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