The highly anticipated Pac-12 Network will officially launch on August 15, 2012. More than 40 million subscribers across the country will have unprecedented access to every football game and every men’s basketball game played by each team in the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 Conference is one of the most popular and successful collegiate sports organizations in America, which gives the new network every reason to be optimistic about the future. Originally founded as the Pacific Coast Conference in 1915, the Pac-12 has been a powerhouse racking up more than 2,000 national titles across its 22 different sports programs. All this makes the nationwide launch of the Pac-12 Network a huge deal for sports fans everywhere.
The Pac-12 Network has long-term deals in place with ESPN and the Fox Sports Network, which lends to its unique structure. The new network will be comprised of a total of seven channels. One channel will be the national network, broadcasting the hottest matchups each week to a nationwide audience, with the remaining six channels operating on a regional basis. In addition to Pac-12 Arizona, which will provide coverage of the University of Arizona, as well as the state’s other Pac-12 team, Arizona State University. Additional regional channels include:
- Pac-12 Los Angeles (USC and UCLA)
- Pac-12 Washington (Washington and Washington State)
- Pac-12 Oregon (Oregon and Oregon State)
- Pac-12 Bay Area (Stanford and California)
- Pac-12 Mountain (Colorado University and the University of Utah)
Arizona Wildcats fans have every reason to be optimistic about the launch and the future of the Pac-12 Network, but success, as with any new business venture, is not a given. No sports network can be successful without demand for the product, which does give the Pac-12 Network a good start. After all, the conference’s major sports programs are some of the most watched in the nation.
The new network has only been able to structure deals with cable television carriers Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks. Glaring absences are two of the larger cable television providers, Charter Communications and Cablevision. Also missing, and more problematic than the absence of deals with Charter and Cablevision, are deals with the two largest satellite television broadcasters in the nation, DirecTV and DISH Network.
By comparison, the Big Ten Network (BTN) launched in August 2007 with only DirecTV and the AT&T U-verse as its major carriers. Within a week DISH Network came on board as a broadcast partner. However, it took the better part of two years for the BTN to structure deals with other major carriers, including Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Brighthouse Networks, Cox Communications, and Cablevision.
The additional cable television networks, which today total more than 300 for the BTN, largely came to the party because fans of the Big Ten Conference called their local cable and satellite television providers and demanded they carry the new network.
Pac-12 commissioner and member of the Pac-12 Network executive team, Larry Scott, stated publicly he’s “quietly optimistic” the Pac-12 will have deals structured with the two satellite premium home television providers by the fall. Even with the largest satellite provider, DirecTV and its 20 million domestic subscribers, there are no guarantees of success.
The MountainWest Network, also known as The Mountain, failed after a mere five years and they had a broadcast deal with DirecTV. The Mountain, which was the broadcasting arm of the Mountain West Conference (MWC), had serious problems with coverage, even in MWC cities.
There’s no question the nationwide popularity of the Pac-12, particularly as compared to that of the Mountain West Conference, will play a huge role in its acceptance and future success. Unlike The Mountain, which had very little demand outside its conference cities, teams in the Pac-12 have national appeal with fan bases in virtually every television market in the country.
This serves to further stress the importance of contacting local satellite and cable television providers to carry the new Pac-12 Network. It’s easy to believe in the hype of “build it and they will come,” but broadcasters aren’t mind readers. Unless they hear from fans of the Pac-12 demanding this new product, they’ll likely not offer it.
There’s plenty to be optimistic about in the Pac-12, and the launch of the new dedicated sports network, providing 24/7 access to every team in the conference is certainly a big deal. If you find yourself out in the cold, without this new network as part of your cable or satellite television lineup, call your local carrier and let them know they’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities ever presented.