The Pac-12 Networks, continuing to add small distributors to its affiliate roster under the master agreement it struck with National Cable Television Cooperative, remains in discussions with larger providers as its Aug. 15 launch draws nigh.
During an Aug. 10 conference call with reporters Gary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, the content and multiplatform media company for the collegiate conference that bears its name, announced that the Pac-12 Networks had added eight more affiliates to its camp: Strata Networks and All West Communications in Utah; San Bruno Cable in the Bay Area; GCI in Alaska; LocalTel in Seattle; Ashland in Oregon; and CC Communications in Nevada.
Pac-12 also has a pact with Suddenlink, but was still working on what markets and networks the cable operator would offer, according to Stevenson.
With the most recent spate of deals, earlier NCTC agreements and charter affiliate pacts with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox, Stevenson said at this point Pac-12 Networks would pass up to 48 million U.S. homes as launch.
Stevenson discussed how providers are positioning the services. "A lot [of MVPDs] outside the six-state footprint are putting it on a sports tier. At this point, Cox has decided not to put it on a sports tier [in Oklahoma City and several other markets]," he noted. "We find it a little bit curious... I'm sure fans in Oklahoma who have Cox would want to let them know they want to see that game." Oklahoma State plays Arizona in football on Sept. 8.
He remains optimistic that the Pac-12 Networks' distribution roster will grow as it continues to press for carriage deals with DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse, among other affiliates.
"We're working at it day and night. We're having great conversations and are looking to work out business deals that make sense for the both of us," said Stevenson, adding. "We're perfectionists: we want everybody, but only have 50% of the vote."
Asked if he thought Pac-12 would have one or more of the aforementioned quartet on board by Wednesday's kickoff, Stevenson replied: "There is nothing we've heard that is discouraging from any of them. We don't expect all of them will be on at launch, but as we talk about our content, our fans who are the customers of those distributors will get what they want."
Coming out of the gate, that means a national feed, as well as six regional sports networks mapping the Pac-12 footprint in Northern California (Stanford and Cal); Southern California (USC and UCLA); Oregon (Oregon State and Oregon); Washington (Washington State and Washington); Arizona (Arizona State and Arizona); and Mountain (Utah and Colorado) areas. A revamped website with an enhanced video player is also in play, while TV Everywhere components will set up on a staggered basis with content available on PCs at launch, iPads shortly thereafter and iPhone and Android devices within 90 days.
Stevenson said that football games from all 12 conference teams -- including three ranked in the top 15, USC, Oregon and Stanford -- will be featured over the first four weeks of the upcoming season. The first live event: Stanford versus Santa Clara in women's soccer on Aug. 17.
The network will bow on Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. (PT) with a live studio show; followed by a gridiron conference preview at 7 p.m., and at 8 p.m. by its Conference of Champions series, putting a focus on a three-related notables, in this case, quarterbacks who were selected at the top of the NFL draft, Drew Bledsoe, Alex Smith and Andrew Luck. The first night capper: an encore of last season's inaugural conference football championship, Oregon's 49-31 win over UCLA. Dedicated previews of the individual football teams are scheduled, beginning with Oregon on Aug. 16 and concluding with UCLA on Aug. 25.
Stevenson also gave a shout-out to Pac-12 athletes who had turned in sterling performances at the London Olympic: 12 of 13 members of the gold-medal winning U.S. women's water polo team, nine members of the women's soccer team that topped Japan in the final at Wembley Stadium and decathlon winner Ashton Eaton, who was a five-time NCAA champion at Oregon.
Those performances underline the conference's global renown in Olympic-style disciplines, which will receive expansive coverage on the varied Pac-12 platforms.