Pac-10 cuts rich deal with Fox, ESPN

It's a huge package - worth about $3 billion over 12 years, reports the NYT. With the addition of Colorado and Utah, the conference is also starting its own cable network in 2012 that will carry at least 350 sporting events. Selling marquee games to the two major sports channels while keeping the lesser match-ups is similar to a model developed by the Big Ten Conference - except that the Pac-10(12) will retain full ownership of its network, while Fox owns a minority share of the Big Ten channel. Larry Scott, the Pac-10's commissioner, said he's not surprised by the deal, considering that the previous TV package was undervalued.

The timing of the Pac-10's deal helped, he said. The Big Ten, the Southeastern, the Big 12 and the Atlantic Coast Conferences have all wrapped up contracts in recent years. That left the Pac-10 to be fought over by ESPN, which carries more college sports than any other company; Fox, which has elevated its ardor for college sports after losing its B.C.S. bowl rights to ESPN; and Comcast, which was looking to raise the profile of its Versus channel. "It was a confluence of events," Scott said. "We were the last to go, which put a tremendous premium value on our rights. It's all about market dynamics. He said he believed that the new channel would have better choices of football and basketball games than the Big Ten Network does.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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