As part of the media tour last week, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott began revealing plans for the Pac-10 Network. The Big Ten Network put the model in place for a conference network -- with its success earning schools piles of money -- but Scott is looking to deviate from the plan.
“We’re not that far along in our planning,” Scott said.
But his goal is to have “more premier programming” than the “third-tier” games he said were on the Big Ten Network. The selection process for Big Ten football games greatly favors putting better games with greater ratings potential on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.
Thus far, conference networks are a haven for lower level games that don't get picked up by regional or national telecasts. The niche market is what's made the Big Ten Network so successful. By not using the early days of the Pac-10 Network in the same way, Scott is going against the proven model of success for a conference network.
Scott publicly announcing he would like premium games on the Pac-10 Network is another move to drum up interest in the Pac-10. It may be true, or it may be a attempt to draw in suitors for a Pac-10 Network while playing that against the major networks (ESPN/ABC, FSN). If the goal is to get the Pac-10 network on a close-to-basic cable package, this would do it.
On the flip side, this sounds like a negotiation ploy. By threatening to pull premium games off the main networks -- and subsequently adding them to a Pac-10 Network -- it creates a situation where the networks could pay a premium to ensure the high profile games stay on the major broadcasts. It's a simple -- yet typically successful -- tactic.
As Scott said, the planning for a Pac-10 Network is still in its infancy. A Pac-10 Network with a good number of "premium games" would be great, but only if the whole country could see it. If the goal is to increase exposure for the conference nationwide, the network needs to be readily available outside of the footprint. If it's not, this is likely part of some public posturing for the upcoming TV negotiations.