In just over 24 hours, the seven television networks that together comprise the Pac-12 Networks will go live. In terms of the massively increased level of television coverage for Pac-12 athletes in many sports, or the massively increased revenue for UCLA and the other members of the conference, the establishment of the networks is a very big deal.
Of course, creating the network was just part of the plan. The next main task has been to get the various cable and satellite television providers on board. Over the past few months, and as recently as last week, carriers large and small have agreed to carry some combination of Pac-12 networks. There are still plenty of holes to fill in the coverage net - particularly with satellite: DirecTV seems a likely addition, if after the season begins; Dish Network not so much. With that said, per Jon Wilner, the network has reached carriage agreements with companies reaching 48 million homes. After the jump, I'll break down the carriers that will be carrying the networks - and which of the networks that you will be watching.
There are four major cable carriers that reached early agreements with the Pac-12: Bright House, Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner. Other, smaller cable companies have also reached agreements to broadcast the networks - either their regional network and/or the national network. Here is a look at which cable packages, or tiers of service will be needed to watch either the regional network and/or the national network on the major partners.
BRIGHT HOUSE: Their only market in the Pac-12 footprint is Bakersfield/Kern County. Viewers in that area will get the Los Angeles regional network, likely on the Digital tier of service. The national network will be available for Bright House subscribers with the Sports Pass: for Kern County residents this is in addition to the LA channel, for those in other regions this is the only television-based option for the Pac-12 networks. No matter in which region, online streaming of each regional network will be available.
COMCAST: Comcast, as is also the case with Cox, is following a three-zone system in distributing access to the networks.
- Zone 1 comprises the metropolitan areas surrounding each conference school: Los Angeles/Orange County, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle. Denver and Portland are also considered to be Zone 1 markets.
- Zone 2 comprises the other major metropolitan areas in the six Pac-12 states. In California, Zone 2 markets include (but are not limited to) Fresno, Sacramento and San Diego.
- Zone 3 comprises the rest of the country.
In terms of network availability, Comcast customers in Zone 1 markets will have their geographically appropriate regional network available on the expanded basic service tier - the tier that ESPN/Comcast Sports Net are on. Zone 2 customers will have the geographically appropriate regional network on the digital basic package. Fresno and Sacramento will get the San Francisco network, and San Diego will get the Los Angeles network.
Zone 3 customers will only have access to the national Pac-12 network, by subscribing to the Sports and Entertainment Package. Zone 1 and 2 customers will also have access to the national network by subscribing to the SEP.
COX: In terms of companies that have reached agreements with the Pac-12, Cox customers are getting shafted. The good news: If you are a Cox customer in one of the six Pac-12 states, you will have the ability to gain access to one of the Pac-12 networks. In determining which regional network you will have and in which tier of service you will need to have, refer to the Zones mentioned in the Comcast section above.
Cox subscribers in LA/Orange Counties will have the Los Angeles regional network on an expanded basic tier, while San Diego (pdf) and Santa Barbara (pdf) subscribers will need a digital package. Cox will give Las Vegas access to the national network via the Sports and Information Pack (pdf), but most other markets will not have even this level of access to the networks.
TIME WARNER: While Cox is squeezing access to the Pac-12 networks, Time Warner has recently announced the broadest, most accessible plan to disseminate the networks. It is pretty simple, too. If you are a Time Warner subscriber in one of the six Pac-12 states, the appropriate regional channel will be included in the expanded basic tier, no matter which metro area you live in. The national network will be available on the Sports Pass for TWC customers outside of the Pac-12 footprint, as well as those living inside.
In addition to these four carriers, the conference has carriage agreements with several regional and smaller cable companies to broadcast the Pac-12 networks, within the conference footprint and beyond. As of today, these include members of the National Cable Television Cooperative, such as Bend Cable and Frontier Communications in the Pacific Northwest, Astound/Wave Broadband in Northern California as well as the Northwest, and Orbitel Communications and Western Broadband in Arizona. The conference also announced agreements with several other smaller carriers last week:
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.
Subscribers of the above cable companies will have access to online streams of Pac-12 network programming, including games, through TV Everywhere. At launch tomorrow, access will be limited to a browser-based player. An iPad streaming app is due to be released shortly, with iPhone and Android apps expected to be released in the next 90 days.
Tomorrow I will have another post looking at some of the network content and scheduling, including how some programming will be divvied up among region and how conflicts between multiple live games will be handled.