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Pac-12 Football TV Contract History: Revisiting The Horrible Pac-10 TV Deal

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Before we start looking to the future, let's make a move back to the past and remember how lame things were. Doesn't get much lamer than the lame, lame Pac-10 TV deal, which has caused a 300% rise in abstinence the past decade.

At first glance, the contents are as benign as baked potato chips. The last year of the true Hansen Pac-10 contract was in 2009, which looked something like this:

  • ABC/ESPN held the rights to 20 total games.
  • FSN held the rights to 18 games
  • Versus held the rights to seven games.
  • Remaining games were regional contests.

That doesn't sound so bad right? A bunch of big games on a national network, additional contests on other cable networks, nearly half of our biggest contests took place. Decent exposure for a big-time conference.

Well, one problem.

Most of the ABC/ESPN games were broadcast on ABC, and almost all the contests were regional distributions to West Coast audiences. Only USC/Oregon and Notre Dame/Stanford in 2009 (three of the 20 ABC contests) were true national telecasts. No mirroring option (which occurred when ABC was distributing two games at the same time, and the other telecast was distributed on ESPN2) with ESPN2 was available.

So the flagship network that was broadcasting our games was only doing so on a regional basis, relegating the Pac-10 to second-tier status for most of the last decade. Big problem.

Okay, maybe two problems.

Versus did provide national telecasts in general. Unfortunately, Versus was perhaps the suckiest college football network to ever suck, with poor production values, erratic service and occasional flareups. Versus also struggled to pick up carriage and was not always available on the regular cable/satellite packages, relegating these contests to only select sport viewers.

I.e., No one but the diehards were watching Pac-12 football. Pretty big problem.

Well actually, now that you think about it, there were three real problems.

Many of the regional contests (particularly for Oregon State, Washington State, and Arizona) struggled to gain distribution for games not picked up by local sports network. So games didn't just not get picked up nationally, they often didn't get picked up at all. The Pac-12 did manage to get more online streams to pick up a few of those contest.

In conclusion, this deal blew royal goats.

Coming up: What B.A.M.F. Larry Scott did to change things up.