Aug 13, 2012

The Pacific 12 Network is coming.

On August 15th, the Pac-12 will launch their television network, and will perhaps create the blueprint for every other NCAA conference looking to maximize revenue for years to come. What makes the Pac 12 network different than any other’s is that the network will be entirely run by the conference itself, meaning that any profits would only be shared within the league and it’s member schools.

It’s a high-risk maneuver, that, if successful, can have an even larger pay-out.

“We have to execute, do a great job, but fundamentally, the reason we’ll be successful is the way we’re structured and the quality of content — and having the resources to do it well,” Pac 12 Commissioner, Larry Scott says. “It’s a premier offering. I think we had the benefit from learning from the Big Ten, the things they did well and the things they’d improve upon. But we’re different. There is no other financial master to serve.

“We think long-term decisions, and we get to invest. We’re only responsible to our university presidents.” (via USA Today)

The closest thing to the Pac-12’s network is the current Big Ten network, which the Pac-12 has used as a model.  BTN has brought a significant windfall to the conference since the network started in 2007. The key difference? The Big Ten is the minority owner of the Big Ten Network, with Fox having 51% majority ownership.  The start up costs for the Pac-12 are much higher, but again, the reward is there, if the model works.  That being said, the conference is not putting all of its eggs into the ‘network basket’, they’re looking to be come a complete content provider,

“My mandate was, how do you take this storied conference with all of this success but is undervalued, under-leveraged from an exposure standpoint, as well as a revenue standpoint, and help kind of turn it around, build an enterprise that stays true to the values of the conference?” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott says. “How do we blow this thing out?”….”The idea is Pac-12 content, anywhere, anytime, by any device.”

Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson added, “We don’t think just about a television network or a digital network, but rather, we’re creating a content company.”

The Pac-12 will launch a new website, on Wednesday, in conjunction with the network, will also providing mobile users access to their content across all Android and Apple devices. The Pac-12’s media arm, Pac-12 Enterprises, hired video technology company Ooyala to develop the conference’s digital platform, a platform which they plan on expanding outside of the Pac-12’s regional network in the coming months. In the meantime, regional subscribers with Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House and National Cable Television Cooperative will be able to receive the network.

“It’s a privilege to work with the Pac-12 team which shares our commitment to innovation, and to be part of its digital TV deployment from the ground up,” said Jay Fulcher, chief executive officer of Ooyala. “Together we’re putting the technology and processes in place to deliver a progressive fan experience that people can enjoy on any device from any place. And with unlimited capacity to broadcast any sporting event from anywhere, the Pac-12 is on the cutting edge of live broadcasting in the digital age.” (via Sports Business Digest)

If everything pans out the way the Pac-12 hopes, the conference is projecting profits of roughly $30 million annually to each school within the conference — a pretty penny, even for the upper echelon members like USC and Stanford.

And if the network is able to get close to those expectations, don’t be surprised if we see other conference’s following the Pac-12’s model.

Just the way they’d like it.

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