New Pac-12 TV deal is way ahead of the curve

4 May

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

The Pac-12 announced its progressive 12-year media partnership with ESPN and Fox Sports on Wednesday in what appears to be a major score for the conference’s basketball programs.

Larry Scott, the new boy-wonder commissioner of the Pac-12, laid out the plan to present the league on a similar (if not grander) platform to that of SEC football.

The deal, Scott says, is “to deliver an unprecedented level of innovative sports programming to large national audiences across the country.”

He’s exactly right.

From the Pac-12 release on the deal:

The new 12-year deal goes into effect in 2012, and includes “TV Everywhere” platform rights for the broadcast, national cable and Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network packages (the ability to distribute games on any and all available platforms, including the computer, mobile and tablets).

– 68 regular-season men’s basketball games, appearing on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and Fox Sports Net.

– The balance of regular-season men’s basketball games, over 120 each year, will be featured exclusively on either the Pac-12 Network or Pac 12 Digital Network.

– The Conference’s men’s basketball tournament (quarterfinals, semi-finals and the championship game) will be shown on ESPN/ESPN2 or FOX Sports/FX.  ESPN will broadcast the first basketball championships and then rotate with FOX/FX each year thereafter. The balance of the tournament will be featured exclusively on the Pac 12 Network. Fox Sports Net continues to hold all rights to the 2012 tournament.

Scott said every Pac-12 men’s basketball game will be available through the new Pac-12 network.

Fox Sports was the only national carrier of Pac-10 games this season, with its highlighted Thursday and Sunday night games. Now, Pac-12 games will be broadcast “primarily on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday nights” through an ESPN or Fox Sports property.

Major recruiting tool? You bet. Pac-12 schools have long struggled with luring top level prospects away from the East Coast. It’s important to note that only 14 players in the class of 2011 top 100 rankings by are from high schools in the Pac-12 region. Exposure into new regions on a national platform is an advantage the league has struggled with for years.

From a fan perspective, ESPN will allow for much more interactive and on-the-go media consumption.

ESPN vice president John Skipper said: “Fans will be able to watch ESPN’s Pac-12 coverage on any screen they choose.”

Welcome to the app world, Pac-12.

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