D iehard fans of the Colorado Buffaloes and other Pac-12 schools will be able to see their favorite teams and student-athletes compete much more often and from just about anywhere they happen to be when the Pac-12 networks begin programming.
Gary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, was the first employee of the networks late last summer and he now leads a team of 70 that grew to 130 on Aug. 15, the day the national network and six regional networks began broadcasting.
He said one of the most exciting aspects of a very challenging project is that once a fan becomes a subscriber, he or she will be able to access games and other shows on cell phones, tablets and computers — a concept dubbed “TV anywhere” — and won’t be limited to watching games and other shows from their couches.
“There is a lot of attention today on television, which there should be, but the ability for us to deliver content to all different screens is quite compelling,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said there will be 850 events broadcast by the Pac-12 networks in the first year.
He said ESPN and Fox will air another 120, leaving an additional 1,400 events in assorted sports that can be added to the television lineup or streamed on the digital side of Pac-12 Enterprises in the future.
The goal is to provide the conference’s most avid fans all the programming they can handle and Stevens said it’s coming together nicely with a little more than two months before the official startup.
“The most rewarding part of this is this whole thing started with Larry Scott, the commissioner, really listening to what Pac-12 fans and Pac-12 students and alums wanted,” Stevenson said. “It was obvious that they were frustrated by not having access to see all the games when they wanted to see them, where they wanted to see them. It was obvious they wanted more coverage of Olympic sports. There are a lot of fans of those sports and they wanted to know more about what happened in an event and what a coach was thinking.”… I feel like we’re really filling a need here.”
The networks figure to be a huge boost in exposure for women’s sports and Olympic sports.
CU coaches such as volleyball coach Liz Kritza, cross-country and track and field coach Mark Wetmore and women’s soccer coach Danny Sanchez will have a better appreciation for the spotlight Jon Embree and Tad Boyle are under, even if it’s not quite as bright or constant.
Stevenson said the networks will also air one classic game from each school’s past. In the case of CU and Utah, which have only been in the league for one year, it might not be a conference game.
“That will give us a couple weeks to make sure all the trains are running down the track at the right time,” Stevenson said. “Then our first big weekend we’ll have somewhere between seven and nine football games on our network. We won’t know that until we’ve gone through the draft process.”
As seasons get going in earnest, Stevens said there will be 350 events seen on all seven networks through the year.
He said 35 of them will be football games, 135 men’s basketball games and 180 other events split between the other sports.
In addition, subscribers to the regional networks will see an additional 50 events dedicated to each of the two schools featured on that network for a total of approximately 450 events.
There also will be Sunday night highlight shows and Tuesday night shows previewing the action in the conference for the rest of the week.
Stevenson noted Pac-12 holds the re-air rights to all games first broadcast by ESPN and FOX and those games will be re-aired during the week.
He said the networks will also have programming from spring football.
The 12 schools in the league feature a wide variety of sports and Stevenson said all of those programs, even those that aren’t officially sponsored Pac-12 sports, will get air time on the networks in one form or another.
He said the costs of broadcasting a golf tournament or a ski meet will lead to innovative approaches to get those sports coverage. He said some sports might be better suited to being streamed on the internet.
Stevenson said the networks will be as equitable as possible with the number of appearances each school makes, even though there are schools such as CU that have the minimum number of sports (16) for the Division I level, while Stanford has 36 different programs.
“The fact that some schools have more programs than CU gives us some challenges when it comes to scheduling,” Stevenson said.
“Will it be exactly equal? I doubt it. I mean, Stanford women’s basketball will probably — because they’ve been so dominant — get slightly more games than some of the other schools. That’s just human nature. Are we just splitting them down the middle and saying each school gets this many exposures? No, but every university is going to be quite pleased with the exposures they get, especially when you compare it to what has happened in the past. It’s not even close.”