Pac-12 universities launch sports networks
The California Golden Bears offense huddles up as they face the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. The Pac-12 Conference will begin broadcasting college athletics on one national network and six regional ones.
Jeff Horwich: With the Olympics over, maybe you're craving sports to watch. Well, OK: how about seven new networks following college teams in the Pac-12 Conference? Today the Pac-12 launches a national network and six regional ones.
Too much? Here's Marketplace's Jeff Tyler.
Cal announcer: Here’s Smith. Pump-fake. Drives into the key. Throws left corner. Guitierrez. Open three. Up. And Cal leads.
Jeff Tyler: In the past, fans of Cal or Stanford couldn’t get all the basketball games on TV. That changes today. Over the next year, the Pac-12 networks will broadcast more than 850 live sporting events.
Gary Stevenson: We will carry every sport that is played in the Pac-12 conference. Which has never been done before.
Gary Stevenson is president of Pac-12 Enterprises. The networks will include a digital channel that can be accessed on your computer, iPad or smartphone.
Stevenson: We are building what we call ‘TV Everywhere.’
Cable providers paid for broadcast rights. That money is funding the networks. Ed Ray is president of Oregon State University.
Ed Ray: We have 100 percent of the equity. We’re not having to bear any startup or out-of-pocket costs.
But Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist sees a downside.
Andrew Zimbalist: It perpetuates the notion that if you commercialize your athletics program properly, that you can generate a surplus. Very, very, very few schools on any realistic accounting basis generate a surplus in their athletic programs.
Still, he estimates that a successful regional sports network could eventually bring participating universities $10 million a year.
I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.