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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.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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