The future of the Pac-12 Networks is slowly coming together, and today the conference announced an August 15 launch date for six regional networks and one digital network.
In addition, digital broadcasting company Ooyala said it has partnered with the Pac-12 to provide assistance with what they said is "the world's first fully integrated broadcast/broadband sports entertainment network."
What's that jumble of technicality mean?
This is the first time that a broadcast network has incorporated mobile, multi-device video technology into its operations from day one. Pac-12 Network viewers will be able to watch the content they care about most on their TV, on the web, or on their tablets and smartphones. When it launches this fall, the new network will televise more than 800 live sporting events annually and provide PAC-12 fans 24/7 access to all Pac-12 teams. The end result will blend traditional broadcast programming with personalized, over-the-top streaming video for a true TV Everywhere experience.
Ooyala is currently developing custom TV apps for the PAC-12 that will deliver live and on-demand sporting events to connected viewers around the world, no matter which Pac-12 team they follow. These iOS and Android experiences will enable social sharing and commenting, with integrated Facebook and Twitter feeds featured right next to premium, broadcast-quality video. Connected viewers will also have access to stats, scores, press conferences and documentaries that enhance traditional TV programming.
Quite honestly, it's still hard to say exactly what the above description means for you and me.
I'll probably end up bleeding money through my iPhone's 3G connection if I decide to watch Arizona softball games on it. If I'm on my laptop, I'm sure it'll be of added value if I even have the time to check out something like swimming or baseball when it's not on the TV. But will I? Will you?
In short, I feel like this is cool stuff, but now the question becomes, "Will the pay-out be as great as Larry Scott hopes?"
The network is definitely ahead of the times, but that becomes a risk if the Pac-12 blows money that doesn't reward the network if people don't scoop up the product. Then again, the Pac-12 does have $2.7 billion to mess around with.
This interactive, digital TV stuff and mobile opportunities sound great, but to get all hyped on the future of digital media overlooks the main achievement by the commish; there's not a question that the biggest part of the Pac-12's revamped efforts still lie in the big-time television networks deals that should allow us to not miss any football or basketball game on the schedule.
The Wildcats will be represented by the Arizona regional sports network that will be shared with ASU as well. No more high school basketball games overlapping the beginning of a game in a packed McKale Center.
That's what I'm excited about.
(h/t to Pacific Takes)