SALT LAKE CITY — More exposure and lots of it. That's what Utah and the other schools in the Pac-12 stand to gain in a new media deal announced by conference commissioner Larry Scott in New York on Wednesday.
The creation of the Pac-12 Networks, which includes a national operation and six regional entities, will make 850 league events each year available to nearly 40 million households through a deal with cable operators Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House.
It'll complement a 12-year, $3 billion media rights deal the Pac-12 recently signed with ESPN and Fox.
"As we explored the potential for a Pac-12 network, it became clear that we could customize programming towards local interests and provide our students, alumni, and many fans the widest possible range of events with the best opportunity to see the schools they care about most," Scott said in making the announcement.
Financial terms were not disclosed; however, Utah athletics director Chris Hill said the "exposure is phenomenal" and being on the cable systems is "gigantic."
Broadcasts will begin in August of 2012.
It'll ensure that every football and men's basketball game the Utes play will be broadcast on a national platform. In addition, hundreds of Olympic sports competitions will be aired regionally on Pac-12 networks.
"It's the best of both worlds. Credit, obviously, to Larry Scott and other members of his staff and the president's group," Hill said. "It's a huge thing. There's a great deal of pride in all of the sports in the Pac-12."
And now there's a distribution means in place to share it all with the rest of the nation. In the coming months, Pac-12 Enterprises hopes to announce agreements with satellite and telco transmission operators on picking up the networks.
Utah's regional outlet is currently dubbed "Pac-12 Mountain" and will focus on the Utes and Colorado Buffaloes.
"We are excited about what this will mean for all of our men's and women's teams and to our fans around the country," Hill said in a released statement. "With its innovative approach, the Pac-12 Network has the potential to reach a huge market and ensures that all of our football and men's basketball games will be televised nationally."
All of Utah's other sports, he added, will also receive an unprecedented amount of television exposure in the deal.
"We have long felt that our sports programs at the University of Utah were well deserving of national exposure and I'm pleased to say it is now a reality," Hill said.
Aside from the national Pac-12 Network, conference members were paired off for regional networks: Utah-Colorado, Arizona-Arizona State, California-Stanford, Oregon-Oregon State, UCLA-USC, Washington-Washington State.
"Our fans are going to be able to see Pac-12 competitions in ways they haven't before," Scott said while noting that programming will be available on digital devices where viewers can be authenticated — establishing what the conference calls a virtual "Pac-12 Everywhere."70 comments on this story
"This is an incredible opportunity for the Pac-12 institutions to promote not only their outstanding athletic programs, but their equally impressive academic departments," said interim Utah president Dr. Lorris Betz. "The Pac-12 Network will initially be available in millions of homes and the deal was constructed to allow for continued and rapid growth nationwide. Commissioner Larry Scott did an outstanding job and has moved forward with the support of the Pac-12 presidents."