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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Keep it simple

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the Pacific 12 Conference is exploring the possibility of its television network being available exclusively online on June 27.

Um, what? That doesn’t sound like a very good idea. Innovative? Yes. Unprecedented? You bet. But is it the best thing for the conference? No, and it’s far from it.

Supporters of the idea say that we’re not far from TVs having built-in Internet capabilities — that big-screen TVs and computers will be one in the same — so the use of the Internet with the Pac-12 Network makes sense. That might be true, but count me among those that wouldn’t want to watch a blurry, choppy Pac-12 football game on the Internet instead of some random college game in high definition on ESPN.

The Pac-12 has always been a conference that has struggled to get national attention, and the addition of the East Coast media tour shows that conference officials acknowledge that.

So why would putting out what would be an inferior product (at least for the time being) be a good decision?

Supporters also claim that the Pac-12 will generate enough revenue through its $2.7 billion TV deal with ESPN and Fox that the conference won’t need to worry about making an immediate profit off of the network, that it can tailor its decision to what is best for the conference long-term, which is probably true.

But if the conference makes its network available only online, it had better be as high-quality as what viewers would get on their TV sets, or nobody is going to tune in.

If the Pac-12 wants to get more respect around the country, putting out a network that generates positive attention is a good place to start.

The Pac-12 Network should go the route of the Big Ten Network; start out as a TV network and build a foundation. Then, like the BTN does now, offer as many games online as you want — just don’t make that the only way they’re available.

Instead of partnering with Google or Apple, the conference should partner with a company like Comcast or Time Warner Cable. There will be enough demand, at least on the West Coast, to make sure that cable companies carry the network.

And isn’t one of the biggest arguments for having a television network for the Pac-12 an increased coverage of Olympic sports? The only way that’s going to happen is if the network is offered on TV. Then, it has a chance to catch someone’s eye as they’re flipping channels.

But what if the channel is only online? Let’s be real. Who’s going to go out of their way to watch a slow feed of a sport that they probably don’t know what’s going on in?

The answer’s simple: next to no one.

That’s why the Pac-12 needs to follow someone else’s lead on this one instead of trying to be innovative. If the conference tries to launch an online network and it fails, good luck saving face and defending that decision.

Pac-12, this is a chance you’re only going to get once, so please, don’t screw it up.

Alex Williams is the sports editor of the Summer Wildcat. He can be reached at


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