Coaches Hot Seat froth on the Pac-12 Networks

Yeah, I know that college football discussion is not in the wheelhouse of a good percentage of the readership here at the ‘Lancer, but maybe some of it will work out. Here’s a rather frothy rant from the guy at Coaches Hot Seat, who Uses A Lot Of Caps and Exclamation Points! (It’s also a way for me to test a Firefox WP add-in. But I’m going to let you watch Larry Scott get blistered, and that should be worth it. I hope.)

Coaches Hot Seat froth on the Pac-12 Networks

The CHS fellow and I disagree about the meaninglessness of bowl games. I would, however, agree that the proliferation of stuff like the Kraft Fight Hunger With Manufactured Junk Food Bowl, the Beef O’Brady Bunch Bowl, and the Idaho Potato Bowl (they repeat themselves, ahem) has made college football bowl season ridiculous. Most times, all it takes is a .500 record to be assured of a bowl in a major conference, or a winning record in a non-major. It feels like ‘every kid gets a trophy,’ even though it isn’t, quite. Though at the rate we are going, we might end up with enough bowls that everyone makes it. It would only take about 60, and we’re halfway there. Bowl games I think would be fun:

  • The Bowl (play it in East St. Louis)
  • The Experian Credit Wrecker Bowl
  • The Bank of America Nickel-and-Dime Bowl
  • The Onion Bowl (in reality, it would turn out to be a hoax)
  • The Bismarck Bowl (let’s see how well your team really travels: North Dakota in December!)
  • The Twilight Bowl (during Fairbanks, AK’s few hours of dusk that pass for daylight)
  • The Lentil Bowl (played at Pullman)
  • The Begging Bowl (hold it in whichever EU country, that refuses to tax its rich people or rein in spending, is in the worst shape and needs a boost…Greece would be the current frontrunner, though Spain is mounting a credible bid)
  • The Crock O’ Crap Bowl (where else but our nation’s capital?)
  • The Smoke-A-Bowl (alternating between Colorado and Washington; I think that’s fair)
  • The Tidy Bowl (Geneva, Switzerland, since you can basically eat off the streets in Switzerland)
  • The Sanction Bowl (best two teams on bowl probation; held in the yard at a maximum security prison)
  • The Facebook Bowl Sponsored by Everyone

What isn’t funny this year, as the CHS article mentions, is the colossal failure of the highly touted brand spankin’ new Pac-12 Networks. Here was the idea: imitate the Big 10 (which used to have twelve members, now the number keeps shifting, but only ten of them are even remotely big anyway) by starting the conference’s own network, getting nearly every Pac-12 football game on TV and also televising a lot of other sports that don’t get as much exposure. It was a good idea.

What we did not expect was that the Pac-12 would get so greedy. It had a year to reach agreements with the major premium TV providers. In the main, the conference failed at the basics of business: you need to get the sale. My understanding is that the Pac-12 had promised the member schools Big Moola, forgetting two things: that one still has to reach agreement with providers, and that if one fails in this, one’s network is a not-work because your viewers can’t watch the games. In our area, the Pac’s failure to reach agreement with DefectiveTV and Cheater (two of our three primary providers) denied a majority of the local viewership any chance to watch the games. In my case, four Husky games plus one non-Husky rivalry game mattered to me. During that one, I sat down to write a letter, since it wasn’t on my TV. I’d like to share it with you.

November 24, 2012

Mr. Larry Scott

Pac-12 Conference

1350 Treat Blvd., Suite 500

Walnut Creek, CA 94597-8853

Dear Mr. Scott:

Normally right now I would be rooting for one disliked Pac-12 rival to beat a more disliked Pac-12 rival on TV. Unfortunately, the UO/OSU game is on your Pac-12 Networks, which DirecTV doesn’t offer, so I have free time to write you a letter I have spent most of the season formulating.

In 2011, I was able to watch all twelve Washington games on TV. In 2012, I was able to watch eight. Sadly, the other four were on your vaunted Pac-12 Networks, thus unavailable to me. I trust you understand what this means: your network has been a detriment to Pac-12 sports coverage. If that weren’t bad enough, you have sicked our almae matres on us. Pliant minions that they can so often be, they’ve tried to convince us to blame the satellite and cable providers, and to switch to a provider that carries the Pac-12 Networks. I am not an unreasonable man, nor am I new to DirecTV. I know that DirecTV, a perennial corporate spoiled child and bully, manages to fight with some content provider most months, causing loss of coverage. I am not taking DirecTV’s side when I fault you for the situation. I’m pointing to results: we were better off without your networks. Your networks made sports worse.

It didn’t have to be this way. There were other options. You had a year to work out some sort of deal with the likes of DirecTV. If you had to settle for less money than you have evidently promised the schools, you could have negotiated a one-year deal and returned to the table later. You could have offered online viewing through the Pac-12 Networks website for a reasonable subscription fee (or even free). I would have paid. Instead, you co-opted the schools into repeating your talking points, pressuring fans to pressure their TV providers. One problem with that, Mr. Scott: bright minds graduate from Pac-12 schools. Most aren’t fools. We learn critical thinking. We aren’t all so easily manipulated, and the attempt insults our intelligence and education. Who’s going to dump an otherwise functional vendor relationship over such a small percentage of their TV service? That would be dumb business.

I can tell what this stance cost the conference, because I happened to see some Pac-12 Networks coverage while visiting a friend. While I found the overall coverage substandard, the commercials stood out most. Nearly all were yours, which tells me you didn’t sell much airtime. While the ADs may parrot the line, the advertisers aren’t buffaloed. They know that your stance has lessened the audience, making your price higher than your viewing base is worth to them. It was more sad than comical, but it was a bit of both.

Sir, you have failed. You have taken yet another step in the transformation of a great sport into purest moneyball, where fans are just annoyances who had best hush, accept what is thrown to them, and keep their noses out of corporate management. You have made it pointedly clear that the fans’ good does not matter.

Proud of that?


J. K. Kelley (UW ’86)

I don’t expect a reply.


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