Here’s a look at the possible contenders for the Pac-12 television contract, what they bring the conference and what they can gain from the conference:
The network is the conference’s longtime partner and offers an over-the-air channel, a widely available basic cable network in FX, regional sports networks and the experience of being a partner in the launch of the widely successful Big Ten Network.
Fox recently agreed to pay $25 million for the rights to the inaugural Pac-12 football championship game and increased inventory from expansion next season.
Fox has been aggressive in college sports of late, paying $23 million per year for the rights to the Big Ten football title game as well as closing in on a deal with the Big 12 and reaching one with Conference USA.
The recently approved merger between Comcast and NBC gives the company every ingredient the Pac-12 would be looking for in a partner.
NBC offers the over-the-air channel that would give national exposure to the top-level games.
Perhaps more important, Comcast is the nation’s largest cable provider and is dominant in every part of the conference except Southern California and Arizona, providing a path for quick penetration for the launch of the Pac-12 network.
No partner can match the exposure ESPN offers as the leader in sports television in the United States. The Pac-10 has suffered in recent years in terms of perception with only a handful of basketball games on ESPN.
With so many college sports properties already under contract, ESPN also might be the least likely bidder to break the bank to get the Pac-12. But ESPN could easily bid for a slice of the deal.
Turner has expanded into college sports by sharing this year’s NCAA tournament with CBS. That has won acclaim and adding more college sports could help develop truTV into a full-fledged network. That’s a similar strategy to the one that helped make TNT and TBS so successful.
The conference would have to look elsewhere for a network partner and Turner can’t offer easy access to cable or satellite providers for a Pac-12 network.