Tag:Time Warner Cable
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.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:39 am

Pac-12 Network on its way?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News has done Pac-12 fans a favor with this exhaustive review of the current state of the conference's television negotiations. Among the details:
  • After paying the league $25 million for the Pac-12 championship game rights, Fox is the "clubhouse leader" to become the league's next television partner; a new deal could move Pac-12 games to Fox proper and off of FoxSports
  • As the league's current television partner, Fox enjoys exclusive negotiation rights until that window closes sometime in "early May"; a new deal could be reached before that window expires
  • After expenses, the championship game deal should net each school somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million
  • ESPN is almost certainly not going to bid for the Pac-12 contract.
But likely the element of most interest for Pac-12 fans -- and arguably the most important one for the conference going forward, judging by the Big Ten's revenue stream -- is the development of the planned Pac-12 Network. Wilner says that the league fully intends to start the network, though not entirely for the reasons you'd think:
I also believe commissioner Larry Scott wants to make the Pac-12 Network happen, and that the only reason it won’t happen is if Fox essentially pays the league to not form a network ...

[T]he Pac-12 Network would do more than provide an increase in football and men’s basketball viewing opportunities for fans inside and outside the league’s footprint.

It would also provide a broadcast outlet for the Pac-12’s Olympic sports, which are not only highly successful – the league is an Olympic medal machine — but also so important to the conference['s] longstanding commitment to providing broad-based athletic opportunities.

Within the league’s inner circles, the importance of providing a broadcast outlet for the Olympic sports cannot be overstated.

There's little doubt this would be the first time major college football would be impacted by Cal and Stanford's bitter water polo rivalry. As for Fox potentially paying the league to keep its games on its FoxSports regional networks, given the success Fox has already enjoyed with the Big Ten Network, this seems unlikely.

But as much desire as Scott and the conference might have for their own network, it doesn't mean it's going to be smooth sailing getting it up and running. Wilner points out that the logistics could be "expensive and complicated," with the biggest obstacle being Time Warner Cable. The cable goliath has balked at hosting new sports networks before -- it still doesn't carry the NFL Network, according to Wilner -- and would be able to all-but singlehandedly keep the "P12N" out of Los Angeles, the league's largest and most critical market by a mile. If Time Warner refuses to play ball, will it even be worth the league's effort to build the network in the first place?

If everything goes according to plan for the Pac-12, by fall 2012 Fox will be paying the league a handsome sum commensurate with the SEC's and Big Ten's deals, airing the league's football games in primetime on broadcast television, and helping the league put together an in-house network that would dramatically increase both revenues and exposure. But whether the last part of that plan comes to fruition, only Time (Warner) can tell.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com