Pac-12 Network to cease broadcasting at end of June, conference adapts for survival

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As the Pac-12 conference faces a tumultuous period, the Pac-12 Network and its regional channels are set to cease broadcasting at the end of June. This news, confirmed by a letter from distribution partner Charter Communications to its subscribers, comes as the conference grapples with the impending departure of most of its member schools to rival athletic leagues.

The network’s final live broadcast was the Arizona vs. Stanford conference tournament baseball game at the end of May, marking the end of an era for the Pac-12 Network.

Launched in 2012, the network faced significant challenges throughout its existence, particularly with distribution. A notable example was the long-standing impasse with DirecTV, which hindered the network’s reach and revenue potential.

In December, the Pac-12 Network announced layoffs of more than 100 employees, set to take effect in the first half of 2024. This decision was a clear indication of the financial strain the network and the conference was under, as the majority of its member schools prepared to leave for the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC in the summer.

With only Washington State and Oregon State remaining in the conference, the Pac-12 is set to undergo a significant restructuring.

The conference, under Teresa Gould’s leadership, will continue to operate, albeit with a drastically reduced staff. The network will transition into a new entity called Pac-12 Enterprises. It will serve as a production facility for the remaining two schools and potentially offer services to other college and professional leagues nationwide.

The San Ramon, Calif., production studio, once a part of the Pac-12 Network, will become the home of Pac-12 Enterprises. This new entity will produce events for Oregon State and Washington State, with their home football games set to air on The CW. Additionally, the facility will aim to generate revenue by serving as a for-hire production facility for other organizations.

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According to Mark Molinari, who will lead the new production facility, Pac-12 Enterprises’ best-case scenario is to generate enough outside work to cover its overhead costs. Any additional work beyond that point would generate profit for the two remaining schools. This new approach could potentially turn the once-struggling network arm into a valuable asset for the conference.

The Pac-12’s remaining staff, reduced from around 195 to approximately 30 full-time employees, will consist almost entirely of previous employees. The conference’s core functions, such as PR, legal and compliance, will continue to operate, albeit on a smaller scale.

As the Pac-12 navigates this period of significant change, the long-term fate of the conference and its reimagined network remains uncertain. 

Pac-12 was originally the leader in the race to package college sports for regional audiences through specialized networks; however, now it is another failure in the crumbling cable bundle. 

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