The Pac-12 Networks officially launched at 6 p.m. PST on
Wednesday, Aug. 15, from its San Francisco studios. The national network, and
six additional regional channels, will initially pass through 48 million homes
with deals having been signed with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox and Bright
House Networks. In addition to televising live events in myriad sports conferences,
the networks will also offer studio shows and additional types of programming.
The networks' chief revenue officer, Bill Cella, a longtime
media agency and TV network ad sales executive, took some time on launch night
to talk about where the networks stand in the area of advertising.
Who are some of the
advertisers you have signed up to be on board as the networks launch?
We launched with about 40 advertiser clients that include Dr Pepper, UPS,
Sony, Cisco and MillerCoors, among others.
What are some of
the most active ad categories?
Strong ad categories include automotive, movie studios, fast food and
insurance/financial, but I can't name any more specific advertisers at this
What have been some
of the challenges in getting advertisers on board with a start-up group of
Launching seven networks in one day, one national and six regionals, has
never been done before. It did take a while to explain to all the prospective
advertisers the footprint of the networks and how each one of them will work,
what the different types of programming will be on each. It was so large and
intricate as to all the opportunities we have to offer and many advertisers are
still weighing their options. But to have this large a number of clients at
launch, to me, is quite impressive.
So there are plenty
of opportunities out there that still exist?
We're just hitting the tip of the iceberg because the networks and concept
are still new in the minds of many advertisers. There are still a lot of
advertising dollars out there, so we are continuing to tell our story and pitch
our programming. We will have 850 live events across all of our networks over
the course of the year and in addition to the more known sports of football and
basketball. We are going to show lots of Olympic sports like gymnastics, swimming,
volleyball and soccer.
Do you believe the
huge audiences that NBC drew for the London Olympics will help drive some
viewers to the Pac-12 networks' Olympic category sports?
The popularity of the Olympic telecasts, I believe, will actually help us
draw more viewers to those sports. It's going to make our program
offerings more enticing and it gave a lot of exposure to those athletes. The
Pac-12 had 239 conference athletes who participated in the London Games and
about 120 of them were on the U.S. team. Collectively, they won 45 medals. Many
of them will be returning to schools in sports that we will be televising.
What types of
advertising have made up the bulk of the networks' sales so far?
We are offering 360-degree coverage for the clients who want it. In
addition to commercial time on the linear networks, we can offer them audiences
on all digital devices and we will be offering them TV Everywhere options. We're
not just selling units in live football and basketball games, but are selling
packages. We're going to offer live programming for 10 months during the year,
so there will be opportunities in all sports. And because of the wide spectrum
of sports we are offering, advertisers will be able to target their ad buys.
Since we have a good amount of women's live sports, advertisers with
female-oriented products will be able to reach that audience.
Have you sold any presenting
We haven't yet, but are close to finalizing a few. We are trying to be
careful about who we bring in for sponsorships. We are also doing some
integrations, but there too we want to be careful not to overload our
programming with integrations. But we do have some integration elements in our
halftime shows and within our game telecasts and in our pre- and postgame
shows. But at this point, I don't want to name the specific clients.
What type of
opportunities will you be offering in terms of brand integrations?
We're a content company as much as we are a network. We own 100% of our
programming. And we can also craft programming as we see fit. We are not
encumbered by having to work with content partners or outside content
providers. We have a blank sheet when it comes to creative. So, going forward,
we can work with marketers to create opportunities or create actual programming
to integrate their brands at whatever levels we feel appropriate.
Are you offering
ratings guarantees to advertisers?
Yes. We are being measured by Nielsen and will offer guarantees to our
addition to yourself, who are the key members of the sales team?
Roy Seinfeld is VP of ad sales, Steve
Kerepesi is head of corporate sponsorship sales, Ned Watkins heads
our local sales and Chris Giles is our national sales manager and our liaison
to Home Team Sports, which is our national sales representative. We
will be hiring more salespeople who will be based primarily in Los Angeles
and who will begin making sales calls up and down the West Coast in Pac-12
regions of the country.