The Pac-12's TV deal with ESPN and Fox Sports captured headlines for the estimated $250 million a year it will earn the conference, but it is the potential that commissioner Larry Scott sees in the conference's own network that has him almost as excited as the landmark deal he brokered with ESPN and Fox.
The league is creating its own media company, the Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12 Digital Network and Pac-12 Properties.
The company will control and distribute the Pac-12 games not licensed to ESPN and Fox Sports, in addition to holding other media rights.
Scott believes the league's network will give the Pac-12 a unique way to market women's and Olympic sports in addition to broadcasting high quality games not picked up by ESPN or Fox Sports.
"We are going to have very high quality football and very high quality basketball content," Scott said during a teleconference after announcing the agreement. "We will structure things very distributor friendly."
Scott said the partners saw a "tremendous opportunity" to play football games on Thursday and Friday, although the league is sensitive to Friday nights traditionally being a time for high school football to be center stage. Scott said he plans to meet and has met with many high school executive directors in the league's footprint to discuss the situation.
"We are very sensitive to the high schools' needs," he said.
Scott, the former CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, also called the TV deal a "turning point," for women's athletics, believing women's sports will have more exposure than ever.
The Pac-12 football championship game will be on a Friday night, prime time Eastern, to avoid the "clutter" of being on a Saturday when other conferences are hosting their games.
As for the "TV Everywhere" platform of the new, $3 billion, 12-year deal which goes into effect in 2012-13, it will offer fans a way to watch games on numerous fronts.
• 44 regular-season football games annually on ESPN and Fox broadcast or national cable networks.
• 10 regular-season football games per year will be combined on ABC and Fox.
• 34 regular-season games on national cable networks, FX, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
• Remaining regular-season football games, an average of three a week, will be featured exclusively on the Pac-12 network.
• The Pac-12 Football Championship game, starting with Fox Sports in 2012, will rotate between Fox Sports and ESPN.
• The game will take place on a Friday in prime time.
• 68 regular season men's basketball games, appearing on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and Fox Sports Net.
• The balance of regular-season men's basketball games, over 120 a year, will be on either the Pac-12 Network or Pac-12 Digital Network.
• The conference's men's basketball tournament (quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game) will be shown on ESPN/ESPN2 or Fox Sports/FX. ESPN and Fox/FX will rotate broadcasting the tournament.
• Five women's basketball games, including the championship game of the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament, plus 10 more Olympic sports events, on the ESPN networks.
• The Pac-12 Network will feature another 200 live Olympic sports telecasts of 30 men's and women's sports annually.