SAN FRANCISCO -- Ronnie Lott and J.T. Snow helped put up a wall, Marshawn Lynch cleared space with a sledgehammer and the Pac-12 got started building the studios for its new television network.
The conference held the groundbreaking for the Pac-12 networks in downtown San Francisco on Monday, about six months before it will hit the air with a national cable television network, six regional networks and a digital network.
"It's truly a seminal moment for the conference," Commissioner Larry Scott said at a ceremony featuring former great athletes from the conference, as well as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. "It's an exciting time for college sports in general and there's no more exciting place to be than the Pac-12. We've got a great dynamic and bold vision for the future of college sports and the future of our conference."
This network is a major part of that. After reaching a 12-year contract worth about $3 billion last May with Fox and ESPN, Scott announced plans to launch a new conference-owned network to supplement coverage and create more exposure for Pac-12 athletes.
It will be a national network that will air 34 football games next season, at least 125 men's college basketball games, at least 40 women's basketball games and more than 650 Olympic sports events.
The six regional networks will focus more on local schools, providing increased exposure to a conference that has often lacked it despite on-field success.
The other major task is completing distribution agreements. The conference announced deals with cable companies Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Bright House when it announced plans to launch the network in July. Those carriers are in about 40 million homes, although the network will only be on a sports tier outside the Pac-12 area.
The conference still needs to negotiate deals with Charter Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T and Verizon, among other companies. Talks have started but no agreements have been reached as of yet.