Pacific-12 to Launch National Network, 6 Regional Ones

The groundbreaking deal kicks off in 2012 with potential to reach 40 million cable homes.

The newly expanded Pac-12 Conference has partnered with cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks to create a national network and six regional networks.

The regional nets will be established in Northern California (serving Stanford and Cal), Southern California (USC and UCLA), Oregon (Oregon and Oregon State), Washington (Washington and Washington State), Arizona (Arizona and Arizona State) and the Mountain region (newest conference members Utah and Colorado).

The Pac-12 Networks will be available nationwide to almost 40 million cable customers when the arrangement begins in August 2012. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told reporters in New York on Wednesday that the regional networks will be carried locally on basic and digital cable, and the national network will be on sports tiers that require an extra fee.

This move marks the first time any programmer has launched a collection of networks across a variety of platforms rather than a sole network. The deal includes “TV everywhere” rights, permitting content to be viewed outside customers’ homes on any digital device, such as smart phones and tablet computers.

The Pac-12 Networks eventually will telecast 850 live events annually — 350 on the national feed and 500 on the regional feeds — including every football game and every men’s basketball game that isn’t carried by national telecast partners. Additional events will include spring football and every sport played by Pac-12 programs, including all conference championships. The conference plans to launch additional content on broadband as well.

“As we explored the potential for a Pac-12 network,” Scott said in a statement, “it became clear that we could customize programming toward local interests and provide our students, alumni and many fans the widest possible range of events with the best opportunity to see the schools they care about most.”

In addition to distributing the Pac-12 Networks, the four cable operators are using PPV and VOD facilitator In Demand to provide production and operations. Owners of In Demand include Comcast, Cox and Time Warner.