It's no secret that the launching of the Pac-12 Networks three years ago have since been met by struggled distribution and lack of revenue. Last year, things began to get so bad, that some of the conference's biggest schools begun questioning its creation, pondering the benefits of one national channel and six regional channels.
Across the nation, the Pac-12 Network is only available in 12 million homes, and of the 11 conference games during the conference tournament, eight were carried on the network, including one of the semifinals. The rest were available on FS1.
Compared to the Big Ten and SEC Networks, the Pac-12's distribution is abysmal — each reach around 70 million homes nationally. Both the BTN and SECN are bringing in close to $10 million annually for each school in the conference; the Pac-12 however is barely clearing $1 million per school, before expenses.
Even with a Pac-12 Network subscription during the tournament, the content you received was extremely regionalized. On the Wednesday of USC versus UCLA, residents in the Pacific Northwest ended up with a taped rerun of Washington/Washington State or Oregon/Oregon State. Despite the fact that the network has both national and regional feeds, most local carriers only provide access to regional feeds.
Recently, athletic directors from the conference's respective schools created three committees to examine cost-cutting, how the Pac-12's revenue compares to that of other conferences, and game start time. The network is owned by the conference, and in early 2015, commissioned the services of the investment banking firm Lazard, in order to determine a value of the network, and investigate the possibility of taking on equity investors.
Things aren't as bad as they appear, according to the network's top brass. President Lydia Murphy-Stephans told the Sports Business Journal the network was "absolutely" doing its job for the conference. "It's an exciting time," she added. "We've built a business form the ground up .... We're positioned perfectly to move forward."
The Pac-12 Network still lacks a distribution deal with DirecTV — the largest sports content provider nationally among cable and satellite carriers in the U.S. AT&T, one of the network's main business partners, bought DirecTV last summer, however, commissioner Larry Scott has still been unable to secure a deal between the two parties.
The network's fifth football season is right around the corner, and with stars such as Stanford standout Christian McCaffrey, it has no hopes of expanding its distribution network nationally. With AT&T's plans to phase out its U-Verse service, there is a risk of the network's reach shrinking even further.