Jon Wilner: Plenty of ‘short-term pain’ with Pac-12 Networks

Feb 13, 2019, 10:00 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2019, 10:55 am
larry scott, pac 12 networks...
The Pac-12 launched its own media network under commissioner Larry Scott in 2012. (AP)

Have the Pac-12 Networks backfired for the conference? It’s an idea explored by college sports reporter Jon Wilner, who on Wednesday published a piece in the Mercury News that examined the true cost of the Pac-12’s 100-percent owned networks.

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The conference launched it’s own network without a broadcast partner in 2012. At the time, the idea was intriguing to university presidents and chancellors, who were reportedly told they could expect annual payouts of up to $10 million per school. As uncovered by Wilner, though, the actual revenue is closer to $1-2 million annually.

The Pac-12 Networks also suffer from a lack of exposure thanks to that same business model. The Big Ten conference (which has partnered with Fox) and SEC Network (which has partnered with ESPN) each have up to four times the viewership.

Wilner joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore on Wednesday to talk about the state of the Pac-12 Networks.

“At that point (it was created), it was viewed as revolutionary” Wilner said. “It was totally owned by the schools, there were six regional feeds, one national feed… and it sounded great at the time: ‘Wow, seven networks and we’re going to own all of it, we’re going to be rich, we’re going to be cutting-edge.’ And it’s cutting-edge, but it certainly didn’t prove to be rich.

“Now, I should say that to be fair to the conference, they think this model in which they own 100 percent of the networks will prove to be the smart move five years from now when they renegotiate their media deals. We’ll have to see how the whole thing plays out. But there is a lot of short-term pain.”

Listen to Wilner’s entire interview with Danny, Dave and Moore in the audio clip embedded above.

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Jon Wilner: Plenty of ‘short-term pain’ with Pac-12 Networks