How badly is the Pac 12 Network struggling?


If you read the blog, you know we keep an eye on the ACC Network discussions. The SEC Network appears to be a solid success right out of the gate. The Big 10 network after some early issues, is a money maker. Conference networks aren’t homeruns though. The Mountain West Network didn’t survive, and now there is quite a bit of discussion on the problems for the Pac 12 network.

The Salt Lake Tribune wrote an interesting article on the issues the Pac 12 Network is having.  The article is accessible, just take or skip the survey. Here are some highlights…

The Pac-12 is running into the same problems the Mountain West did. Not just that sports fanaticism is arguably less than it is in Big Ten and SEC country; not just that its alumni base is smaller. There are simply fewer viewers in this part of the country.

Almost 80 percent of Americans live in the Eastern and Central time zones; 5.4 percent in the Mountain Time Zone; 14.1 percent is in the Pacific Time Zone….

…Pac-12 schools are only getting $1 million a year from the Pac-12 Networks — a figure that, three years ago, was projected to be $5-$6 million….

…It’s no wonder that Pac-12 member schools are not happy. And talking about change.

Don’t be surprised if the league sells a large interest — maybe 49.9 percent — to one cable giant or another.

Does this have relevance to the ACC Network? Somewhat, but I wouldn’t make any sweeping generalizations from this. The ACC does seem better positioned as it’s population base is across the eastern seaboard. Remember don’t confuse pure ratings with subscribers. You only need enough interest to put a network channel on a cable tier, and every cable subscriber gets it whether you watch it or not. I get the Big 10 network in South Carolina, and I’m sure there isn’t a tremendous amount of demand for it in this part of the country.

That’s a popular mis-conception concerning the sports cable networks.  While carriage rates may vary, there is just more people/subscribers in the eastern part of the country.

The second point is that at one point, many praised the Pac 12 for going it alone, and now there is a possibility they may sell a large interest to a cable giant? The Big 10, and SEC Network are split entities with Fox and ESPN. The ACCN as we know would be a joint venture with ESPN.

This won’t slow any ACC Network discussions, nor should it, but it does show some of the obstacles involved with launching a network.

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