Though the official announcement isn’t due until Wednesday, Pacific 10 Conference commissioner Larry Scott has confirmed to the New York Times that the conference will create its own sports network while also selling off rights to marquee football and basketball games for approximately $3 billion over 12 years, beginning in 2012.
In doing so, the Pac-10 — which officially becomes the Pac-12 on July 1 with the formal addition of Colorado and Utah — has set itself up with the most lucrative TV rights deal of any college conference.
Pac-12 fans will need to keep their local listings nearby for guidance. According Richard Sandomir of the Times and John Ourand and Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily, Fox will carry Pac-12 football games on its broadcast network and FX, and basketball games on Fox Sports Net. ABC will also carry football games, while ESPN’s various networks will carry football and basketball. ESPN and Fox will also alternate broadcasting the Pac-12 basketball tournament and the newly created Pac-12 football championship.
The winning networks outbid NBCUniversal, which could have used cabler Versus as an outlet for Pac-12 broadcasts.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Pac-12 sports programming — chiefly outside of football and men’s basketball — will end up on the new Pac-12 Network as well as a digital outlet to be created. The conference will retain ownership of the new network, according to reports.
That network will have to find its way onto existing cable and satelite distributors, but given the popularity of its older sibling, the Big 10 Network, there should be plenty of interest.