The fourth-annual College Sports Video Summit kicked off with an inside look at one of the most unusual cable launches in television history. More than 500 college sports-video professionals gathered at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta for the keynote speech by Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson.
In less than a year, Stevenson and his team have laid the groundwork for seven television networks, a digital platform, and a TV Everywhere strategy, which will all go live when the company debuts prior to the start of the next academic year.
“All of you in this environment know how fast things are changing,” Stevenson said on Wednesday. “In our accelerated world, the speed in which we have been asked to create Pac-12 Enterprises is really unprecedented. Rome may not have been built in a day, but I tell you, it feels like that’s how much time we’ve had to launch the networks.”
Stevenson proceeded to give a much anticipated progress report.
“If any of you have ever been involved in a new, innovative effort — and I’m sure many of you have — you know that it starts with a clear vision,” he said. “Someone has to see a world that doesn’t yet exist, you’ve got to describe that world to others, and then you’ve got to build consensus so that you can move forward. Then you’ve got to have the guts to invest and put the resources in to make that happen.”
The Pac-12 boasts 2,020 individual and team national champions over its history, the most of any conference in the country. Even so, Stevenson noted, Pac-12 sports don’t get nearly the attention they should on the national media stage. Increasing the exposure of the conference and its stories and feeding the demand of the members’ fans and alumni were the impetus for Pac-12 Enterprises’ mission: raising the conference’s national profile.
Control of the Content
“It was very bold and courageous of our presidents to say, there’s got to be a better way to do this,” said Stevenson. “A big part of the vision was taking control of our content, and equally important are the ways to distribute it. So that meant a coordinated strategy between broadcast TV, cable TV, and a full range of digital rights. It meant not just the assumption of one network but seven networks: one national and six regional. So we can do national programming and hyperlocal programming.”
Stevenson also revealed that Ooyala, a Mountain View, CA-based video-solutions company, is creating the TV Everywhere platform for Pac-12 Enterprises.
“You know, a lot of people would have assumed that we would put these studios in L.A., the entertainment capital of the world, but we decided that we wanted to be closer to the center of digital innovation in Silicon Valley,” he said. “I think that tells you a lot about where we think the future lies.”
He also added that Pac-12 Enterprises is working with many personalities from across the conference to provide the networks with the look, sound, and feel of the Pac-12. UCLA’s music department, for example, is currently assisting on the network’s scores for promos, and Arizona State and Washington State are developing an images library.
Stevenson also added that the company hopes to employ up to 125 employees by launch. Total workforce currently sits at 75.
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