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Pac-12 lands landmark media deal, launches network

May 04, 2011

The Pac-12 Conference is teaming up with ESPN and FOX Sports Media Group on a landmark agreement for a broadcast and national cable television package that extends and expands long-time partnerships with both media companies.

The announcement, made May 4 by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, included the creation of a new media company, Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Properties. This new company will control and distribute on its platforms and on all devices, the Pac-12games not licensed to ESPN and FOX Sports, and will hold other media and event rights.

"The new partnership will serve ASU extremely well,” says Lisa Love, ASU vice president of Athletics. “Our tradition rich varsity sport program will now have the opportunity to shine coast to coast. We're pleased that our television partners recognized the power of the conference. Much is to be gained by broadening our exposure and therein introducing our midwest and eastern friends to the competitive depth and breadth of the Pac-12. This is an exciting day for the Sun Devils.”

Although terms of the ESPN and Fox Sports agreements were not disclosed, Scott called it a “landmark deal” on several fronts. He pointed out that the Pac-12’s member institutions would, for the first time ever, share equally in the revenue from the new arrangement, and that the equal revenue distribution would start immediately when the deal goes into effect in 2012.

“At a time when universities, and especially state universities, find themselves greatly challenged to meet budget commitments, an arrangement that will secure an important revenue and exposure stream over a 12-year period is especially helpful, not only for athletics but for our academic programs as well,” says ASU President Michael Crow, who is Chairman of the Pac-12 CEO Group.

The new Pac-12 television and digital networks will provide “significantly more exposure for women’s sports and Olympic sports in which the Pac-12 excels, in addition to academic and other campus programming of interest to our fan base,” says Scott.

The Pac-12 Media Enterprises will independently manage and sell all of the sponsorship and licensing rights controlled by the Conference, as well as the Pac-12 Football Championship Game and the Men’s and Women’s Championship Basketball tournaments. FOX Sports previously managed the activities.

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). Its content highlights include:

• 44 regular-season football games televised annually on select ESPN and FOX broadcast or national cable networks, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX broadcast network and FX. The remaining regular-season football games, an average of approximately three games per week, will be featured exclusively on the Pac-12 Network.

• The Pac-12 Football Championship Game, starting with FOX Sports in 2012 (FOX already has rights to the inaugural 2011 game) and then rotating between FOX Sports and ESPN each year. The game will take place on a Friday night primetime.

• 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 (quarter!nals, 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.

• Five women's basketball games, including the Championship game of the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament, plus 10 more Olympic sports events, on the ESPN family of networks. The Pac-12 Network will exclusively feature approximately another 200 live Olympic sports telecasts across 30 men’s and women’s sports annually.

• The Pac-12 Digital Networks will feature several hundred other live Pac-12 athletic events on an annual basis, not covered by ESPN, FOX Sports or the Pac-12 Network. To ensure a fair distribution of games, ESPN, FOX Sports and the Pac-12 Network  will share pre-determined football and men’s basketball selection rights.