Pac-10 To Form Its Own Television Network?

D. WalkerAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2010

The latest out the headquarters of the Pac-10 yesterday was that the conference may be looking into forming their own television network.

Larry Scott, the Pac-10's new Commissioner, said the priority in the new television deal will be to increase exposure and revenues.

"I always knew that there's a lot of interest in the possibility in a network," Scott said. "But that's not the only solution to achieve our overall goals."

The comments about the possible Pac-10 network were made by Scott on a conference call to the media introducing former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as his new deputy.

While Weiberg was with the Big Ten, he was involved in the establishment of the Big Ten Television Network.

Weiberg indicated that distribution of the network was the key to its success. In it's first year, it was available to only about 17 million homes. After its first year, the network grew in availability to near 75 million homes.

"Clearly for a network to be successful, you want it to be distributed as broadly as possible not only in the region but hopefully to have distribution that is national in scope," Weiberg said. "One has to think carefully about how to achieve that. It's fundamental to the economic success of such a network."

The Pac-10 is in the entertainment business. College sports are the product so the idea of a Pac-10 television network has its merits I suppose.

But how much of this announcement is pure "posturing" on the part of the commissioner to set the table for new television contract negotiations which expire following the 2011-2012 academic year?

On the same conference call, Scott again brought up the possibility of the Pac-10 expanding.

"It is really over the next six to 12 months that we'll start having serious analysis and serious evaluations," Scott said concerning the possible conference expansion.

While expansion talk by most conferences is really nothing more than suggesting that they will "seriously analyze and evaluate" the possibility, the administrators of the Pac-10 have not looked at expansion favorably.

Expansion means cutting the financial pie into smaller pieces. It means more travel and a lot of schedule juggling.

I believe most of the expansion talk is nothing more than a little analysis and some evaluation it's really just pure speculation.

The Pac-10 would be hard pressed to add key media markets that they don't already have with the present conference alignment.

That brings us back to the idea of the Pac-10 television network idea. Does the Pac-10 really want to get into the media business? Would they really be further ahead with their own network than they would be negotiating a new contract with an ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX?

I tend to think they would be buying more problems trying to establish their own network than it's worth.

First, a new Pac-10 network would no doubt be on cable. Not everyone has cable today, especially in the present economy.

If the Pac-10 had its own network, it would have to hire a lot of employees. Far more employees than the conference now has on the payroll.

The conference would have to manage the network. It means sales and marketing, technical management, and distribution. All expensive arenas.

Why not try to improve what they do best and make the 'entertainment' package a greater value to the consumer?

Sometimes I wonder why conferences call the media in (or do conference calls) to announce that they are not announcing anything really. What they are announcing is that they are "thinking about" doing this or "talking about" doing that.

When a conference actually has something of value to announce, then call the news conference. Anything short of an actual announcement is really just posturing or — pure speculation.