By Guest Contributor Porter Olson:
The highly anticipated Pac-12 Network will officially launch on August 15, 2012 as a national channel comprised of a group of six regional networks dedicated to covering the Pac-12 Conference, including Pac-12 Mountain, which will cover Colorado University and the University of Utah. The national channel will initially be available in 40 million homes, with each regional channel available in every household in each broadcast region.
In addition to Pac-12 Mountain, the following regional channels will be available as part of the network:
• Pac-12 Los Angeles (USC and UCLA)
• Pac-12 Washington (Washington and Washington State)
• Pac-12 Oregon (Oregon and Oregon State)
• Pac-12 Bay Area (Stanford and California)
• Pac-12 Arizona (Arizona and Arizona State)
The national channel will ensure that every football game and men’s basketball games will be televised nationally, giving the Pac-12 Conference exposure on a level most other colleges and universities don’t have now and likely won’t in the future.
It’s great the new network will operate 24/7 right out of the gate. Conference faithful will never tire of the coverage, and a new audience is out there for the taking. The Pac-12 is one of the strongest collegiate sports conferences in America, and regularly play in some of the most thrilling and important matchups in all of college sports.
The Pac-12 will definitely bring a great product to market, but it’s not without its limitations, which creates its own set of concerns.
At present, the Pac-12 Network has reached agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communication, and Bright House Networks. Noticeably missing are cable television providers Cablevision and Charter Communications, and satellite television providers Direct TV and DISH Network.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has said he’s “quietly optimistic” he’ll have deals in place with two of the largest satellite premium home television providers in the industry. DirecTV services more than 32 million accounts, while competitor DISH Network provides services to more than 14 million subscribers.
Remember the sports channel “The Mountain (Mtn?” You actually might not unless you lived in what once were their broadcast markets. Officially the MountainWest Sports Network, The Mtn launched in 2006 as the broadcast arm of the NCAA’s Mountain West Conference (MWC), with Division-I teams located in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas, Utah, Nevada, and California.
The Mtn had serious problems right from the beginning with its lack of high-definition broadcasting and its absence of broadcast agreements with some major cable and satellite providers.
The Mtn never struck a deal with DISH Network, and in some areas of Texas and California wasn’t available on Time Warner Cable even though they carried the network in the rest of the Mountain West Conference.
A large number of sports fans in Salt Lake City found themselves faced with the hassle of changing television service providers in order to watch their local teams. The Mountain was only carried by Comcast and DirecTV in the most populated region of Utah, which meant fans of the University of Utah and Brigham Young University had to switch television providers or make other arrangements just to watch their teams play.
The potential lack of coverage at the Pac-12 Network is far more serious as the size of the regional television markets are some of the largest in the United States, including the number 2 market in Los Angeles, the number six market in San Francisco Bay Area, and the number 11 market in Phoenix, Arizona. These three markets alone represent nearly 30 million viewers in some 12 million households. That’s a lot of potential fans that could be left out in the cold if deals can’t be struck with DirecTV and DISH Network.
Let’s call our mood cautiously optimistic. Here’s to a great launch, Pac-12 Network. Handle your business and bring your excellent product to as many American households as possible.