The Pac-12 Network is on the clock, more major players enter the live TV market without P12N among their offerings

A DIFFERENT DRAFT is taking place this offseason that affects Cougar football fans. Live streaming TV options from major players are here and a wave of new cord cutters are sure to follow. But one channel is missing from virtually all of the online streaming platforms: The Pac-12 Network.

You can get the Big Ten network.  And the SEC Network as well.  You can get the ESPN channels, and both Fox Sports 1 and 2.  But what you can’t get (save for one mostly unacceptable option) is the Pac-12 Network.

It feels like a badly missed opportunity.  Hulu Live TV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue and YouTube TV all offer the Big Ten Network and the SEC Network -- but not the Pac-12 Network. The one option that does?  Sling TV. Alas, a quick search on Google reveals loads of SlingTV customer complaints on buffering, freezing and other snafus, particularly at high volume times.

One media projection has each Pac-12 school trailing its SEC/Big Ten peers every year, for the next seven years, by $12M – $15M in overall revenue.  That’s a gut punch.  And the conference networks play a key revenue role.

The SEC/Big Ten sold an equity stake in their networks, unlike the Pac-12 who retains 100 percent ownership.  The P12N is estimated to provide just $1.5 million a year to each school, compared to $7.5 million per school by the SEC Network and (at least) $10 million per by the Big Ten Network. The ACC launches its network in 2019 and Florida State’s AD estimates it will bring in $10 million per school in its first year of existence, and up to $15 million afterwards.

The Pac-12 is betting that its 100 percent ownership stake in the P12N will pay huge dividends when it negotiates its new deal after the current one ends.

But that’s seven years away. 

Lydia Murphy-Stephans, president of the Pac-12 Networks, resigned two weeks ago. Could this signal a change in philosophy?  Could the Pac-12 look to sell equity in its network and immediately close some of the revenue gap between it and the Big Ten/SEC?

Maybe. But it seems unlikely and for two reasons: 1. It would mean the last four years were a waste of time. 2. Only two years ago the Pac-12 did a review and concluded, again, that 100 percent ownership of the channel was the best course and would, eventually, result in a revenue windfall for the Pac-12.  (Again, IF that comes to pass, it’s still seven years away).

In the meantime, the Pac-12 Network is nowhere to be found on the new streaming options.

And the chances the Pac-12 and DirecTV could finally come to an agreement in time for the 2017 football season appear as desolate as ever.

It has been estimated DirecTV's 22 million subscribers could translate into $3 million per Pac-12 school each year.

The Pac-12 Network means every WSU football game is televised. Plus, a large amount of hoops and Olympic sports have also gained wide exposure. Those are major accomplishments. But the name of the game is money, and the Pac-12 Network is trailing its competitors in both revenue and, within the changing TV landscape, in exposure.

NOTABLE NOTE:
The Pac-12 won’t make its FY16 financial information available until later this month but the Mercury news’ Jon Wilner estimates the Pac-12 will distribute $27 million to each school.  Here's how that compares for FY 15 and FY 16, per Wilner:

Fiscal year 2015 school distributions:
SEC: $32.7 million
Big Ten: $32.4 million
Pac-12: $25.1 million

Fiscal year 2016 school distributions
SEC: $40 million (confirmed)
Big Ten: $35 million (approximate)
Pac-12: $27 million (approximate)

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