Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott topped the CBSSports.com Top 100 this year in large part because of his forward-thinking ability and business savvy. While people always assumed that he was a visionary, perhaps we were underestimating his ability to actually see into the future.
According to the always on top of things Jon Wilner of The San Jose Mercury News, one of the options for the soon to come Pac-12 Network is actually a "whopper" (his term, not mine, but accurate) of an idea that would skip a traditional TV network in favor of a non-subscriber based approach that would see the conference partner with tech giants Apple or Google instead of cable distributors like Time Warner, Comcast or Cox.
iPac anyone? GoogleTV-12? It's all on the table for Scott according to Wilner:
"Instead of turning on your 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."Wilner also presents two other options for the Pac-12 Network and they are pretty standard: 1. Take an existing channel and rebrand it; 2. Start a new channel from scratch. Both options would take several million dollars in start up capital which might make the school presidents pause a bit.
In talking with several people in the industry and at the conference office, the most likely option is a combination of all three. This would involve taking an existing channel (such as league partner Fox Sports's Los Angeles-based Prime Ticket channel) and rebranding it, with new offices and studios in either Los Angeles or San Francisco and adding a large digital network component to complement it.
Regardless what form the Pac-12 Network takes upon launch next year, chances are it ends up being bold, bleeding edge and forward-thinking.
In other wards, expect Larry Scott's fingerprints all over it.