Tag:Comcast
Posted on: June 27, 2011 3:04 pm
 

iPac? Pac-12 Network could be all digital

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott topped the CBSSports.com Top 100 this year in large part because of his forward-thinking ability and business savvy. While people always assumed that he was a visionary, perhaps we were underestimating his ability to actually see into the future.

According to the always on top of things Jon Wilner of The San Jose Mercury News, one of the options for the soon to come Pac-12 Network is actually a "whopper" (his term, not mine, but accurate) of an idea that would skip a traditional TV network in favor of a non-subscriber based approach that would see the conference partner with tech giants Apple or Google instead of cable distributors like Time Warner, Comcast or Cox.

iPac anyone? GoogleTV-12? It's all on the table for Scott according to Wilner:

"Instead of turning on your TV to watch the Pac-12 Network, you’d turn on your computer (or tablet or mobile phone).

The drawback to this approach is that in the short term, the conference would give up the revenue that comes from subscription fees — it would rely on advertising alone for revenue.

But because of the $250 million flowing in annually from the Fox/ESPN, the league has financial flexibility — it can select the network structure that best fits its philosophy and long-term needs, even if that’s not the most lucrative near-term option."

Wilner also presents two other options for the Pac-12 Network and they are pretty standard: 1. Take an existing channel and rebrand it; 2. Start a new channel from scratch. Both options would take several million dollars in start up capital which might make the school presidents pause a bit.

In talking with several people in the industry and at the conference office, the most likely option is a combination of all three. This would involve taking an existing channel (such as league partner Fox Sports's Los Angeles-based Prime Ticket channel) and rebranding it, with new offices and studios in either Los Angeles or San Francisco and adding a large digital network component to complement it.

Regardless what form the Pac-12 Network takes upon launch next year, chances are it ends up being bold, bleeding edge and forward-thinking.

In other wards, expect Larry Scott's fingerprints all over it.
Posted on: May 13, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 12:32 pm
 

How the Pac-12 mega-deal went down

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott figured that the conference's new television negotiations would last well into the summer. With all the major players making their pitch, the process did not appear to be moving rapidly at all. That all changed when ESPN's John Skipper reached out to Fox's Randy Freer about a partnership to win the Pac-12 television rights away from NBC/Comcast. Until late April, Comcast appeared to be the leader in the race - offering the Pac-12 a package that would pay $225 million annually and broadcast on Versus and NBC. The Sports Business Journal detailed how the unlikely partnership came about.
However, Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president of content, was intrigued. Not only would a joint effort increase the bid, it would keep Comcast from picking up rights to a BCS conference. It had just bid $187 million per year to win the NHL rights and wanted to add to that with a Pac-10 acquisition. ESPN and Fox wanted to stop that momentum.

So Skipper called Freer to talk about a joint bid. Freer, Fox Sports' co-president, was interested. Other than CBS's deal with the SEC, Fox and ESPN control the football rights to every BCS conference, and a familiarity was there.

"We have historically worked with ESPN on sublicensing games and events to them and from them," Freer said. "This was done at the conference's request to see if more value could be created for the conference."

They agreed to meet on April 28, when Skipper and John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, flew across the country to meet at the Fox lot in Los Angeles. The ESPN duo met with Freer, Fox Sports COO Larry Jones and Karen Brodkin, senior vice president at Fox Cable Networks.

"Neither side looked at this as a way to try and do a land grab," Wildhack said. "Fairly quickly, both of us found that we had a lot more in common than not."

Over a seven-hour meeting that day, they came up with a bid that would split the rights — 22 football games each — and pay the Pac-10 a whopping $3 billion over 12 years, or $250 million a year. The deal would blow past Comcast's best effort, which eventually rose to $235 million. Last week, Comcast's Brian Roberts told CNBC that his company did not land rights to the Pac-10's TV package because it was "financially disciplined."

The two media giants moved quickly to get the deal done, and Larry Scott freed up some time in his schedule this summer. The interesting take here is the value of the Pac-12, which previously was earning $54 million annually as opposed to the $250 million in the new deal. Clearly the demand for the conference's athletics, particularly football, has grown beyond the West Coast.

As the gap between time zones continues to shrink due to interactivity, the "East Coast Media Bias" will slowly diminish as well. Seeing the moves made by two huge media organizations in order to secure this growing audience is an alert that the Pac-12 plans to continue their rising growth in popularity. College football may not have the lengthy past on the West Coast, but they are making up for it in the present.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 9:30 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 9:34 am
 

Report: Pac-12 agrees to $2.7B deal with Fox/ESPN

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the Pac-12 prepare to welcome Colorado and Utah, expanding their membership to a football-friendly 12 schools, the conference has been working furiously to sign a new and more lucrative television deal for the conference.  According to the Sports Business Journal, the conference has agreed to a new deal with Fox and ESPN that is worth $2.7B over 12 years.  The deal, which reportedly could be made official as soon as Wednesday, will cover football, basketball, and Olympic sports.

In the reported deal, ESPN gets rights to football, basketball, and an Olympic sports package.  They have committed to air an unknown amount of football games in primetime on ABC.  Fox gets basketball and football rights, airing games on Fox Sports channels and FX.  The two networks will rotate coverage of the basketball tournament and football championship game.

The conference's current media deal was also with ESPN and Fox, but the addition of the football championship game and two new schools changed the landscape for the Pac-12.  Comcast/NBC made a play for the deal with their sports network Versus, but pulled out of the competition.  If the reported amount is confirmed, the new deal will more than triple the Pac-12's current deals with ESPN and Fox.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:43 am
 

Pac-12 Network "a done deal"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last we heard from the San-Jose Mercury-News's Jon Wilner on the state of the Pac-12's new television agreements, a "Pac-12 Network" was something the newly-expanded league definitely wanted (for Olympic sports coverage as much as the heightened football profile) but hadn't fully committed to.

According to Wilner today, though, that status has changed:
I’ve also been told by a source familiar with the league’s business model that a Pac-12 Network is more than a negotiating ploy on Scott’s part (which is what some analysts and college sports officials believe).

The network is a done deal and will be launched in Aug. ‘12, in conjunction with the league’s broadcast partner.

The emphasis here is Wilner's; clearly, it's information he's willing to stand behind.

But as he points out, starting up such a network is one thing. Turning it into the money machine the Big Ten Network has become is another. A protracted subscriber-fee battle between the league and Time Warner Cable, the dominant cable provider in California, could become an even more bitter version of the infamous standoff between the Big Ten and Comcast in 2008.

If that's the biggest headline from Wilner's story, there's several more juicy details included, all of which are good news for Pac-12 fans and its member schools:
  • Thanks to the huge sums paid out to the Big 12 (by Fox Sports) and Texas (by ESPN for the forthcoming Longhorn Network), the estimates for the Pac-12's new deal have been ratcheted upwards. Commissioner Larry Scott will reportedly be asking for "a more lucrative contract than the $205 million annual deal the SEC signed with CBS and ESPN three years ago." A deal with dollar figures anywhere near that ballpark would increase each school's annual television cut by millions.
  • Though ESPN and Turner Broadcasting could bid for the league rights, the finalists are expected to be Fox Sports and Comcast. The league has allowed Fox's exclusive negotiating window to expire, presumably in order to see what Comcast (or a third party) would be willing to pony up. L.A.-based Fox may still the favorite, though, with their recent loss of Laker rights to Time Warner fueling the need to provide USC and UCLA games to the Los Angeles market.
  • Once the national broadcast "platform" is in place, the league is expected to schedule weekly Thursday or Friday night football games.
Though little of this is set in stone, one thing is clear: the days of Pac-12 football (and basketball) being the hardest power-conference action to find on the dial will be over soon.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com