Larry Scott, Pac-12 Network Miserably Failing Expectations


March 15, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott addresses the media in a press conference before the semifinal round of the Pac 12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsFollowing the circus and ongoing investigation of the Larry Scott/Ed Rush/Pac-12 Basketball Officiating fiasco, one thing that some people have been pointing to in an attempt to keep Scott out of the hottest part of the fire is his creation of the Pac-12 Network. Turns out, however, the Pac-12 Network might just be adding fuel to that flame.

Stating the most obvious, Scott’s failure to secure a deal with DirecTV has been a complete disaster. While Scott continues to dig his heels in, DirecTV is laughing their butts off, as they are certainly not hurting in the slightest from failure to secure this partnership. Where Scott once had leverage in the fact DirecTV customers had limited to no access to Pac-12 Network games, he has lost that leverage now that any sports’ bar with a sense of dignity carries the Network. A traveler myself, I have found a way—without difficulty–to watch the Arizona Wildcats in Las Vegas, California, Washington, Oregon and in smaller cities such as Sedona, Arizona and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. While I have been diehard enough to make the switch from DirecTV to Dish, the majority of others are not willing to do the same (or, they would like to, but are in a binding contract with DirecTV). Plain and simple—Scott needs DirecTV more than they need him. His failure to secure it is angering more than it is not.

Stating the less obvious, for those that do carry it, the Pac-12 Network itself isn’t as impressive as anticipated. For the most popular sports (for those that live in a cave, that would be football and basketball), the games the Network tend to carry are more often than not the ones other networks don’t care enough about to make an aggressive bid for—the kids who are picked last in a kickball game. While a good game comes around every so often, the schedule is not fascinating enough to lure DirecTV customers away from what they have now. When that good game does come around, it is rare enough for those customers to make arrangements to watch the game at the bar or with a friend who carries the Network.

With these two negatives, you would think the Pac-12 Network would take advantage of substantially expanding coverage of the lesser watched sports like college baseball, golf and track and field, especially when football and basketball are out of season and these sports are being played live—not so much. While Arizona baseball faces off against Arizona State this weekend in a critical series for both teams, the Pac-12 Network will not be showing a single inning. Out of the seventeen Pac-12 baseball games being played this weekend, how many is the Network going to show?

Two. Oregon State vs. Oregon on Saturday and Oregon State vs. Oregon on Sunday.

In fact, out of the 47 events being shown on the Pac-12 Network this weekend, only two of them (the baseball games) will be shown live. Instead of watching Arizona face its inner state rival, we instead get to watch a Stanford v. Colorado basketball blowout that happened in January (Friday), last year’s Oregon v. Oregon State football game followed by a repeat of the Oregon State v. Oregon baseball game that was already shown live at 2pm (Saturday), and another Oregon State v. Oregon baseball game (Sunday). Pretty exciting stuff for those living in Oregon and in the past. For the rest of the Pac, not so much.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence or an off-weekend, right? Wrong. This entire month, only sixteen events—that’s about one every other day—will be shown live.