Over here at BN we have expressed a lot of reservations about Pac-12 expansion in recent months due to the concerns related to UCLA's best interest and standing within the conference. Yet even despite our reservations, we have to give credit where credit is due. While we offered a lot of criticisms towards Larry Scott for bolting head first into expansion in a process that did not look so well thought out, we have to give him a lot of credit for his vision with regards to bringing Pac-12's media visibility up to the standards of 21st century.
Jon Wilner from the San Jose Mercury news has been all over the stories around Pac-12 expansion and the conference's plan to build a mega media empire. His latest scoop is a doozy as he reports that Pac-12 is exploring potential relationship with Google and Apple:
Instead of teaming up with Time Warner or Comcast, the league would partner with Google or Apple.
Instead of turning on you TV to watch the Pac-12 Network, you'd turn on your computer (or tablet or mobile phone).
The drawback to this approach is that in the short term, the conference would give up the revenue that comes from subscription fees - it would rely on advertising alone for revenue.
But because of the $250 million flowing in annually from the Fox/ESPN, the league has financial flexibility - it can select the network structure that best fits its philosophy and long-term needs, even if that's not the most lucrative near-term option.
The Google/Apple TV model is clearly a play on the future - in three or five years, big screen televisions and laptop computers will be one in the same.
It also fits with the west coast's spirit of innovation that Scott and the league presidents are so intent on embracing.
There is a term for this: WINNING THE FUTURE.
Kudos to Larry Scott for being so aggressive with regards to marketing the conference. This will pay dividends for all members of the conference. Although I still believe Scott could have done all this from the perspective of expanding the media empire without rushing to bring a random program like Utah in the mix.