Pac 10 agrees to a tv deal with Fox and ESPN worth $3 billion

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Pac-10 agreed to a 12-year television
contract with Fox and ESPN on Tuesday worth about $3 billion,
allowing the conference to quadruple its media rights fees and
start its own network.
The contract, which will begin with the 2012-13 season, will be
worth about $250 million per year, guaranteeing each of the 12
schools in the conference about $21 million, a person familiar with
the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity
because the contract has not been announced.
The contract is expected to be formally announced at a news
conference in Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Pac-10 made less than $60 million in media rights this past
season but became the latest conference to take advantage of the
escalating market for college sports on television.
The ACC recently signed a deal for $155 million a year and the
Big 12 reached a deal with Fox that made its total annual package
worth about $130 million. The Pac-10, which will be renamed the
Pac-12 in July with the additions of Utah and Colorado, topped
those deals, as well as the $205 million the SEC gets and the $220
million paid to the Big Ten.
Rights to some football and men's basketball games were not sold
to Fox and ESPN, preserving some premium property the conference
can use for a Pac-12 network to go along with Olympic and other
non-revenue sports, a person close to the deal said.
Unlike the Big Ten Network, which Fox has a 49 percent ownership
share in, the Pac-12 will own its entire network. That could add
difficulties in terms of getting wide distributions on cable and
satellite systems but allows the conference to have complete
control of its content and keep all the profits if the network is
as successful as the Big Ten.
The conference will also launch a digital network to show games
online that aren't on ESPN or Fox.
The deal with Fox and ESPN was first reported by Sports Business
Daily, while The New York Times first reported details about the
network.
This deal accomplishes all three goals Commissioner Larry Scott
set out heading into negotiations: increasing revenue, getting more
exposure and starting a Pac-12 network to provide an outlet to
broadcast non-revenue sports and to help brand the conference.
Under this deal, Fox and ESPN will split the rights to college
football games. ESPN will air its games on cable as well as ABC and
Fox will show its games on its broadcast network, basic cable
network FX and on the Fox Sports Net regional networks.
Men's basketball games will be split mostly between ESPN and Fox
Sports Net, with ESPN also getting rights to some Olympic sports
that will likely be aired on ESPNU.
The two entities will alternate showing the Pac-12 football
championship game and the men's basketball tournament. Fox, which
will air the inaugural football title game this season, will have
the first football championship under this contract in 2012, with
ESPN getting the men's basketball tournament later that season, a
person familiar with the deal said.
Finalizing a media rights deal is the latest step in the
transformation of the conference under Scott, who took over from
Tom Hansen in July 2009.
Scott spearheaded last year's expansion effort and then got the
schools to agree to an equal revenue sharing plan and aggregate all
of their media rights at the conference level.
That set the stage for the television negotiations, which began
in earnest April 1. While Comcast/NBC was an aggressive bidder and
Turner Sports also was interested, incumbents Fox and ESPN won out.
This deal means full revenue sharing will kick in as soon as
this contract begins. As part of an agreement to give up their
historically larger share of television revenues, Southern
California and UCLA were each to receive a $2 million premium any
year that the media rights did not reach $170 million.