Pac-12 Commish Calls College Sports Undervalued
New net offers national, regions and local feeds to advertisers
By Jon Lafayette -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/28/2012 7:09:52 PM
Speaking at the American Association of Advertising Agencies meeting in Los Angeles today, Scott says "revenue from television is still a fraction of what it should be." Ratings of big college football games are comparable to Monday Night Football NFL telecasts on ESPN, but rights fees are a lot less, he says, blaming a landscape with 31 division one conferences and a structure in which rights reside with the NCAA, with conferences and with individual schools for fragmenting the market.
After joining the Pac-12, Scott said he got the schools to negotiate rights as a conference. Those rights went to ESPN and Fox and led to the creation of a Pac-12 Network that will launch in the fall. The deal reserves some of the conference best football and basketball games to the Pac-12 Network.
The new rights arrangement should help the conference restore its basketball luster by putting 180 games on national platforms. "Every basketball game is fully national because we look at it as a national brand," Scott said. "We're not going to put our basketball games on any platform only on the West Coast."
Following in the footsteps of the Big Ten Networks, which struggled to establish rates with cable operators, the Pac-12 Network was quickly able to make deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other carriers giving it 40 million subs at launch.
The network will have seven feeds. One will be national; the others will be localized, with Pac-12 networks in L.A., the Bay Area, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Mountain.
That should create opportunities for marketers. "With seven different feeds, we'll be able to maximize audience from an advertiser perspective. It allows us to be very flexible and efficient in terms of a national platform," Scott said. You can be a regional advertiser or a local advertiser. If you are company that just has business in the L.A. area, you can buy on the Pac-12 L.A. network.
The conference has also rolled up the digital rights to all the member school's websites, creating a one-stop-shopping opportunity. "This is what pro sports do. We're applying it for the first time to the college space."
The network will launch in August after the Olympics and will air seven football games when the season starts Labor Day weekend.
Scott added that the conference was able to leverage the 800-pound gorilla of college football to create visibility for the Olympic type sports. About 700 softball, baseball water polo and track and field events will be televised on the network. "They get scant exposure and yet we have some of the greatest athletes at what they do," Scott said. "This is a game changer."
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