Pac-12 in $3B sports deal with ESPN and Fox Sports


The Pac-12 Conference (effective with the addition of two more schools to the Pac-10) announced a landmark broadcast and national cable TV package with ESPN and Fox Sports Media Group running 12 years. Sports Business Daily, which first reported the mega-deal on Monday, valued it at $3 billion.

Along with confirming the deal with ESPN and Fox, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced the creation of a new media company, Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Properties.  This new company will control and distribute on its platforms and on all devices, the Pac-12 games not licensed to ESPN and Fox Sports, and will hold other media and event rights. This entity will be wholly owned and controlled by the Pac-12 Conference and will exist side-by-side with the newly announced ESPN and Fox Sports arrangements.

Although terms of the ESPN and Fox Sports agreements were not disclosed, Scott called it a “landmark deal” on several fronts. He pointed out that the Pac-12’s member institutions would, for the first time ever, share equally in the revenue from the new arrangement, and that the equal revenue distribution would start immediately when the deal goes into effect in 2012.

“We are especially delighted to be strengthening and expanding our relationship with ESPN and Fox Sports to deliver an unprecedented level of innovative sports programming to large national audiences across the country.  With this agreement, we will deliver our events over two broadcast networks and at least five premiere national cable platforms. In addition, we will have our own Pac-12 National Cable TV platform and Pac-12 Digital Network platform,” said Scott. 

Pac-12 Media Enterprises will independently manage and sell all of the sponsorship and licensing rights controlled by the Conference, as well as the Pac-12 Football Championship Game and the Men’s and Women’s Championship Basketball tournaments.  Fox Sports previously managed the activities. “The partnership with ESPN and Fox Sports will be a natural complement to our future plans, which we look forward to sharing soon,” Scott said. ESPN and FOX Sports will have the rights to sell a presenting sponsorship to the Pac-12 football championship game as well as the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Pac-12 Properties will retain all other conference controlled sponsorship rights.

The new 12-year deal goes into effect in 2012, and includes “TV Everywhere” platform rights for the broadcast, national cable and Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network packages (the ability to distribute games on any and all available platforms, including the computer, mobile and tablets).

Its content highlights include:

– 44 regular-season football games televised annually on select ESPN and FOX broadcast or national cable networks, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX broadcast network and FX.

– 10 regular-season football games per year will be on a combination of the ABC and FOX broadcast networks with full national clearance with a substantial commitment for primetime coverage. 

– 34 regular-season games on national cable networks, FX, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

– The remaining regular-season football games, an average of approximately three games per week, will be featured exclusively on the Pac-12 Network.

– The Pac-12 Football Championship Game, starting with FOX Sports in 2012 (FOX already has rights to the inaugural 2011 game) and then rotating between FOX Sports and ESPN each year. The game will take place on a Friday night primetime.

– 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 each year, will be featured exclusively on either the Pac-12 Network or Pac 12 Digital Network.

– The Conference’s men’s basketball tournament (quarterfinals, semi-finals and the championship game) will be shown on ESPN/ESPN2 or FOX Sports/FX.  ESPN will broadcast the first basketball championships and then rotate with FOX/FX each year thereafter. The balance of the tournament will be featured exclusively on the Pac 12 Network. Fox Sports Net continues to hold all rights to the 2012 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 family of networks.  

– The Pac-12 Network will exclusively feature approximately another 200 live Olympic sports telecasts across 30 men’s and women’s sports annually.

– The Pac-12 Digital Networks will feature several hundred other live Pac-12 athletic events on an annual basis, not covered by ESPN, FOX Sports or the Pac-12 Network.

To ensure a fair distribution of games, ESPN, FOX Sports and the Pac-12 Network (which in July adds the University of Utah and the University of Colorado) will share pre-determined football and men’s basketball selection rights.

The Pac-12 Conference retained Evolution Media Capital (EMC), an affiliate of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), as its media and financial adviser and Proskauer Rose as legal counsel.

The Pac-10 Conference is currently comprised of 10 leading US universities: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Washington, and Washington State University. In July, the Conference officially becomes the Pac-12 Conference with the addition of the University of Utah (2011) and the University of Colorado (2012).