Television

The Pac-12 Conference is The Conference of Hypocrisy

The Pac-12 calls themselves the “Conference of Champions”, but what and who they are championing is cause for concern.

The Pac-12 Conference spans six states and includes the flagship public universities of these states, it is a conference that stands out because it is a major conference that caters to the least populated half of the United States and enjoys the poorest television ratings due to the inattention of the more populous Central and Eastern Time Zones.  While you sleep, the Pac-12 airs their prominent sporting events and they do not have your attention.  The lack of attention to the Pac-12 has allowed them to turn more insular and reach deep into their core values.  The Pac-12 Conference tells you who they are and what they stand for all the time, but we have been tuning it out.  As we prepare to watch Georgia play at Arizona State, most of us have absolutely no familiarity with the direction that the Pac-12 has taken.  This is an opportunity for you to find out what you missed and it may be radically surprising.

But first…

The Pac-12 Networks Exist

Lost in all of the ESPN and Fox controlled regional networks is a set of networks associated with one conference that has not enjoyed the same success, it is the Pac-12 Networks.  The whole idea of the Pac-12 Networks is a mixture of confusing and annoying.  Most people outside of the Pac-12 footprint (including the State of Nevada) do not have Pac-12 Networks on their cable or satellite package.  However, those with an Over The Top streaming service like Sling are able to get it.  However, you do not have to pay for the Pac-12 Network, it seems.  The Pac-12 is The Conference of Freebies.

The above live stream is not a pirated version of the Pac-12 Network, it is the best content of the networks into one channel and in this case streamed for an international audience.  They are hurting in advertising revenue and they choose to block out the ads that they run on this YouTube live stream.  It is the main Pac-12 Network.  There are in total 7 networks within the Pac-12 Networks.

The Pac-12 Networks are:

  • Pac-12 Arizona:  Arizona and Arizona State exclusive programming.
  • Pac-12 Bay Area:  California and Stanford exclusive programming.
  • Pac-12 Los Angeles:  USC and UCLA exclusive programming.
  • Pac-12 Mountain:  Utah and Colorado exclusive programming.
  • Pac-12 Oregon:  Oregon and Oregon State exclusive programming.
  • Pac-12 Washington:  Washington and Washington State exclusive programming.

All studio programming and business activity takes place in San Francisco, California.  The headquarters of the Pac-12 Conference also is in San Francisco, California.

Pac-12 Networks differs from the SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and ACC Network in the following ways:

  1. All programming is within the linear construct.  Pac-12 Networks has programming on all 7 networks all day, every day.  The others have a main network that has 24/7 programming and a plus/extra exclusive streaming feature that airs sporting events individually whether they are live or on-demand.  An example would be SEC Network (the main linear network) and SEC Network+ (for digital exclusive sporting events that are not high profile enough for the main linear network).
  2. Networks are divided based on geography, which means that operators can choose to carry a regional network (Los Angeles, Mountain, etc.) for a particular zip code in the region and not the others.  Pac-12 Networks get treated like they are NBC Sports, AT&T Sports or Fox Sports regional sports networks.  If you live in Denver, Colorado and you are an Oregon alumnus, you might miss out on watching an Oregon Baseball game because more prominent games may be on the main network and you have Pac-12 Mountain.
  3. Incomplete carriage.  Not all cable and streaming carriers have Pac-12 Networks.  You might have to get an Over The Top Streaming subscription or hope that the sporting event is on Pac-12 Networks International.
  4. International relationships.  Where can you watch Pac-12 Networks that you cannot watch the SEC Network or ACC Network?  Read on to find out more about that subject.  However, if you live in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) or parts of Southeast Asia, there is good news, you do not need a VPN to watch the Dawgs.  You should have a VPN regardless, but it is not necessary for your viewing pleasure.  ESPN Player exists and you can watch all of the ESPN Networks and all of the streaming college athletic events.

How well is Pac-12 Networks faring?

Not well.  These are the major conference dedicated network television distributions for 2018.

  • SEC: $11,200,000 per school
  • Big Ten: $20,000,000 per school
  • Big XII: $7,200,000 per school
  • Pac-12:  $2,666,667 per school

Ever create a new business?  Typically, you create projected financial reports looking ahead 3 or 5 years based on assumptions, budget allocations, and present conditions before starting the venture to justify entry into the market.  Commissioner of the Pac-12, Larry Scott, presented the Pac-12 Athletic Directors with his vision and guidance for the Pac-12 Networks.  They were very impressed and excited about the possibilities of this in-house produced television network.

Officially, the schools were advised to avoid budgeting for a specific revenue amount and that in an extreme, worst-case scenario, the networks would still manage to break even.

However, in a pre-launch presentation attended by athletic directors, Scott dazzled the room by providing three ranges of annual payouts (once the networks had exited the start-up phase).

According to a source who attended the presentation, those payout ranges were:

High end: $7 million-to-$10 million per school per year

Middle: $5 million-to-$7 million per school per year

Low end: $3 million-to-$5 million per school per year.

There is a bit of a problem here for the Pac-12 Networks as they have been in existence since August 15, 2012.  These are the distributions per school on a per year basis.

  • 2013: None listed
  • 2014: $862,000 per school
  • 2015 $1,677,500 per school
  • 2016 $1,980,250 per school
  • 2017: $2,522,167 per school
  • 2018: $2,666,667 per school

If it is not obvious, this is going far worse than planned.  If the extreme low end range is the break-even point for this venture, Pac-12 Networks is not profitable and has not been since its inception.  The Pac-12 is The Conference of Missed Guidance.

The Pac-12 Networks venture required the individual schools to repurchase their television rights on the local level (the games that are not aired nationally by Fox Sports, CBS, and ESPN) and some are still paying off IMG Learfield Sports, like Oregon State University is currently doing.

The Pac-12 Networks distributions are rising year-to-year, but the growth rate from 2017 to 2018 was considerably lower than any other fiscal year.  Overall school distributions fell in 2018 as the conference saw revenue fall $12.5 Million year-over-year. 

Carriage Issues and Lower Viewership

Pitching salespeople is easy, everybody wants to make a deal.  Athletic Directors are executives that have to sell their overall programs to fund-raise, license or sell experiences directly.  Athletic Directors make hiring and firing decisions, but they pay consultants to do it for them.  Executive Human Resources services like Korn Ferry and niche sports consultants with former coaches as consultants and liaisons are extremely popular.  Pac-12 Networks was an easy sell for Larry Scott, but much like many startups – they face challenges and the pitches do not often translate into reality.

The pitch of “easy money” in 2011 does not match the reality of the expensive unwinding of individual contracts, revenue figures that do not meet expectations, and demand-driven advertising revenue decreases (22% year-over-year).  The words “Private Equity” came up as a way to save Pac-12 Networks, which means distress, potential cost-cutting, and a likely new President of Pac-12 Networks.

Experienced television partners like CBS, Fox, Comcast and Walt Disney Company can help get a network on all carriers.  Strangely, Pac-12 Networks does not sell subscriptions directly.  The major media corporations sell their programming in blocks to the cable/satellite/over-the-top streaming providers.  It is why those with ESPN also have Disney Channel in their package and it gets ugly in markets where the ABC/CBS/Fox/NBC broadcast affiliate is directly owned and operated.  Unfortunately, for those in the New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles DMAs every contract dispute between an operator and a major media company results in the possible loss of a local broadcast channel.  Television networks play hardball when it comes to carriage and new networks are opportunities for more subscriber revenue.  The subscriber revenue carries the network until the advertising revenue picks up with greater viewership.

The Pac-12 Networks are only in 18 million homes, which puts it below the level of The Pursuit Channel, The Sportsman Channel, Fox Deportes, and Z Living.  This is the Conference of Irrelevance.

“It affects everything. It impacts everything. It is your brand.  It is what you put out there for the country to see.  We go on the road and go out to dinner as a (production) crew … and you go to Buffalo Wild Wings or a sports bar, anything you can find, and we want to watch these games and the network isn’t on. You can’t find it.”  – Brock Huard, ESPN and University of Washington Class of 1999.

As of Dec. 2, AT&T @Uverse will no longer carry Pac-12 Networks.

Visit https://t.co/OFCz2sHztd today for a list of the multiple providers who carry Pac-12 Networks in your area. #BackThePac pic.twitter.com/HkcpHNeh70

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 27, 2018

This tweet was from over a year ago and none of AT&T’s services carry Pac-12 Networks.  Verizon FiOS does not carry Pac-12 Networks either and you have to pay an extra $10 to get it on Sling Orange along with SEC Network and SEC Network+.  These are the prominent providers of Pac-12 Networks.

Those in Atlanta do not need Comcast to watch Pac-12 Network because they only provide the one national network that you can get on YouTube for FREE as seen above.  Want to watch Mark Fox lose with his California Golden Bears?  You will need Pac-12 Bay Area and that is not available unless you get a plan from an over-the-top streaming provider.

On paper, having the following markets would seem like a slam dunk, but it is not.

  • Los Angeles (#2)
  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (#6)
  • Phoenix (#11)
  • Seattle-Tacoma (#13)
  • Denver (#17)
  • Portland (#22)
  • San Diego (#29)
  • Salt Lake City (#30)

The passion is simply not there.  Imagine a conference that was comprised of schools like Temple University, University of Louisville, St. John’s University, UAB, Florida International University, University of Central Florida, and the University of Memphis.  Are these the types of schools you build around for a television network?  Not really, they are all commuter schools.  The Pac-12 has a bit of a commuter school problem.

USC, UCLA, University of Washington, Oregon State University, and University of Utah are all commuter schools.  The first two are the most extreme examples of being commuter schools and they carry the conference’s prestige on a national level in the second largest city in the United States.  Commuter schools do not foster loyalty and passion like the way destination schools would.  The University of Georgia, University of Florida, Auburn University, Clemson University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Iowa, Texas A&M University-College Station, and others like them foster great loyalty from alumni around the world.  Being a Dawg, Gator, Hawkeye, Tiger, Aggie is a part of you forever.  It is tough to say the same about the Pac-12 as they simply lack the same level of school spirit and passion.

The Pac-12 is the Conference of Meh.

The Pac-12 is The Conference of Political Ideology and Contradicting Values

Sit down and watch the Pac-12 Networks, consume their chewable video content or even find out more about the Pac-12 Conference from their official website.  It is clear that the Pac-12 Conference has a different vibe than other conferences.  Other conferences recognize the need to maintain excellence in athletics and academics or at least try to put on an appearance (in the case of the Southeastern Conference schools that are not in states along the Atlantic Ocean or are not named ‘Vanderbilt University’) of caring.  The Pac-12 Conference has a different line of messaging and it may seem very familiar if you have ever spent less than 5 minutes on Twitter.

The Pac-12 Conference is a Conference of Progressivism.  What defines a Progressive in 2019 going into 2020 is still open for debate and it leads to a lot of cancellation and anger.  Purity tests, hashtags, garden variety antisemitism, defaced property, protests, and much more activism come with the territory.  Other conferences choose not to be as open about their politics as the Pac-12, the dirty politics of the SEC is behind closed doors in the various state capitols and city halls.  The Pac-12 Conference is loud and proud, but they sometimes do it in a way that is not and it is not because it is an act of modesty.

The word usage in the Pac-12 Conference’s advertising is not accident.  “Collective” and “Progressive” are prominent word choices that hold powerful meanings.

 

The danger of playing left-wing politics as a faux non-profit business with an executive who earns $5.2 Million per year and travels by charter plane or must sit in a first-class commercial airline seat while paying $11.7 Million in office rental costs per year is quite high.  It is playing with fire.

The concept of social responsibility as an offensive method to blunt less “socially responsible” activities and profit-seeking motives has been taught in business schools over the past two or three decades in a bit of a sardonic fashion.  When businesses actually mean what they say, they encounter problems because they court organizations and people that are inherently antagonistic to their existence in the first place.  This is the Pac-12 Conference, a conference that has official banking partners and has a sponsorship from a downstream and midstream energy provider (Philips 66 brand ’76’) is directly at odds with a “Progressive” image.  Philips 66 owns 25% share of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Pac-12 Conference is The Conference of Stealing Greta Thunberg’s Dreams and Childhood.  However, the Pac-12 has an initiative and if you have watched the Pac-12 Networks, it is unavoidable to miss this series of Public Service Announcements from the Pac-12 Conference.

Takes oil money and obnoxiously promotes sustainability.  To a more political extreme in the environmental movement, Jack in the Box is a corporate sponsor of the Pac-12 Conference.  Eat a Jumbo Jack and support LEED certified building construction.  Pick a side.  When a conference touts itself in an ideological fashion like the Pac-12 Conference does, it is open to criticism like this.  The SEC, ACC, Big Ten and other conferences stay out of the political realm in such a way and they just go about their business without having to be concerned about a political agenda or appeasing a political side.  There’s no political purity tests for other conferences and the Pac-12 Conference has strangely chose to dive into those waters.

The SEC and ACC schools are doing good in their communities and they do not need the conference to promote it for them, although the conferences should be more active in doing so.  Doing good does not require politics, it just requires a person to care about others and not have to be concerned about messaging or signaling.  UGA Athletics’ work with Extra Special People is wonderful and some alumni still work with them today.  Mo Hasan of the Vanderbilt Football Team started the Second Spoon organization in Nashville and his teammates help him with feeding the hungry in the area.

The Pac-12 goes further with messaging that mirrors the proclaimed values of the urban effete, but comes across forced and unnecessary.  Watch one game on the network and you will see this PSA multiple times and you may ask yourself, “Why do some of them look like they are forced to do this?  Are they really making a difference here?

Then there is this uncomfortable television spot that was likely shot during Pac-12 Media Day.

The empty messaging goes further and the reason for going after the ads is simple, they put their ideology out there when it is about to be revealed that they are perpetrators of hypocrisy.  It is all completely unnecessary, just show how student-athletes are helping the homeless and drug-addicted in Seattle, assisting those in the Hoovervilles of Los Angeles or working to improve sanitation in the San Francisco Bay Area so that disease does not spread.  The Pac-12 is the Conference of Convenient Compassion.

“You realize that there’s something distinctly in common between the two groups, the left and the right; the worst part of each of them is the moralizing.” – Greg Gutfeld, University of California-Berkeley Class of 1987

the #championher ads on pac-12 network are… so bad. one guy said “not only female athletes but ALL athletes” and another said women’s sports are the same as men’s sports.. like… no shit, sherlock

— kristle s. (@bykristlemarie) November 30, 2019

The Pac-12 is the Conference of Empty Rhetoric.

In August 1936, Germany hosted the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.  The entry of the United States and the athletes of the United States was met with conflict as entry or non-entry into these Olympic Games was believed to send a message of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party that they are disgusted by the actions of the German government and the German people in their murderous behavior toward Jews, Homosexuals, Suspected Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and any dissidents regardless of faith or pedigree.  Many Black Americans wanted to enter the Olympic Games to show that Black Athletes can compete and win defying the White-Aryan Supremacy belief that swept through the burgeoning Nazi empire.  Jewish Americans did not want to recognize an event that was organized by someone engaged in the organized mass slaughter of Jewish individuals.  Outside of those paranoid of the Soviets or sympathetic to the Nazi cause in the United States, there was growing disdain for Germany that went far beyond the sentiments of World War I.

Today, Adolf Hitler is the most reviled individual in the History of Human Civilization.  Hitler’s systematic and evil genocide has been minimized with time and poorly conceived comparisons to politicians that people simply do not like, but his character still stands as evil as Lucifer himself.  It masks the Holodomor, the Great Purge, and other acts of genocide by Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union and it obscures the organized killings directed by Mao Zedong during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.  The mantra is always “Never Forget, Never Again.”  However, as much as The Holocaust is discussed and properly vilified, the lessons are swept under the rug during our modern time.  All in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  Freedom is priceless and so is the human experience.

In East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in Western China reside a Muslim population, the Uighurs.  A genocide is taking place in this region that is similar to the directives under Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong.

“Chinese officials used to only bulldoze mosques and force Muslim men to shave their beards. Now, they throw us in concentration camps.”

This is really happening as nearly 3 million Uighurs are placed in 44 holding facilities in the country, forced to renounce their faith, experimented upon, propagandized, tortured, raped, and killed.  The evil perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party in their chokehold on the Chinese government is starting to become visible to American audiences that have been blind to this as media outlets in the United States have a vested interest in China as a market.

Media conglomerates have film production division within their companies and they are highly reliant on Chinese revenue to turn profits at the box office as domestic audiences are going to the movie theater less.  Media conglomerates also have news divisions that bring U.S. audiences broadcast and digital news.  They are known as the “legacy media”, “corporate media” or at its most complimentary in classification, “mainstream media.”

Statistic: Frequency of going to movie theaters to see a movie among adults in the United States as of June 2019 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

For access to the Chinese market, media conglomerates and other businesses with interests in China have to pay a price.  They have to toe the line of the Chinese Communist Party.  Play by the rules of the Chinese Communist Party or lose access, there is no tolerance.  When Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted and then deleted the tweet below, he set off a firestorm exposing the conflicts of interest that media conglomerates, large corporations, and in this case the NBA has when courting the Chinese Communist Party.  When a business does business in Mainland China to gain access to the market, they are doing business with the Chinese Communist Party in one way or another.

The Houston Rockets are now unable to be viewed in Mainland China and being a Houston Rockets fan is something to keep deep in the closet because it will likely be used against a Chinese fan in their social credit score.

China has “capitalistic” elements to its economy, but they are merely extensions of the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping.  The crackdowns, authoritarianism, soft annexation of Africa, genocide, expansionary efforts in the South China Sea, and knee-jerk sensitivity under Xi Jinping can be explained by the economic conditions and fraudulent economic data.

Above is the Shanghai Stock Exchange Index, there have been two peaks in the index followed by sharp downturns.  Much like the United States, China has an active central bank (People’s Bank of China or ‘PBOC’ for short).  The PBOC actively devalues their currency to spur economic development and compete globally.  The SSE Index experienced a stock market bubble and a subsequent burst in the bubble.  The SSE Index has not yet recovered and is still considered to be in a bear market.

Much of China’s economic boasts through GDP figures are to be taken with rim of salt and Patron tequila.  Any graduate or student who has taken any sort of international business, finance, marketing or economics course from a professor with any intellectual honesty will tell you that China is fudging their numbers and their data is not to be trusted.  China has ghost cities that are a sign of economic stress and putting on appearances to attract foreign investment.  North Korea also has cities with completely vacant streets and skyscrapers much like China in an attempt to show that their system works and is thriving.

The behavior of China in the past four years is not of a government looking to grow influence or strength, it is of a China that is unstable and trying to compensate for internal economic troubles.  China is insecure, they beat up Muslims, try to control or shut down the internet in Hong Kong, buy friends and influence in Africa, and has a girlfriend two towns over that you cannot meet because she is allergic to the air in this town.  History repeats itself and China debased their currency, commits genocide, and turns expansionary to deflect from a bad economy just like Germany under Adolf Hitler.

It is incredibly important for the Chinese Communist Party to save face and they will do it at any cost.

What does this have to do with the Pac-12?

The Pac-12 is the ONLY conference with the following arrangements:

The Pac-12’s Global initiative is weighted heavily toward a relationship with China, which means not crossing the line of the Chinese government.  The Pac-12 Conference has a social credit score.

The Pac-12 celebrates diversity, environmentalism, and social justice in their messaging and initiatives.  Yet, their activities show that they support genocide, pollution, censorship, torture, and weather manipulation.

Contrast the Pac-12’s rosy look at China with the SEC.  Would the Pac-12 Networks allow a video like this to be created?  SEC Network created it for all to see, it is the story of University of Tennessee diver and student-athlete, Colin Zeng, called “Dive to Survive”.

The Pac-12 is the Conference of the Chinese Communist Party.

What do students of the Pac-12 Conference schools think of this?

The Pac-12 is the Conference of Unnecessary Kowtowing

Putting an official political bent on the Pac-12 Conference was completely unnecessary.  Regardless of their stances, it opens the Pac-12 Conference up to criticism and negative headlines for being hypocrites.  Taking a political stance whether it be left or right is simply unnecessary and harms all members and student-athletes.  When the initiatives and rhetoric do not match the behaviors in the case of the Pac-12 Conference, it is trivializes the causes that are championed by true believers.

When you watch the Pac-12 Networks to see Georgia face Arizona State, keep in mind that the image that they project is an attempt to obfuscate problematic relationships, activities, and loyalties.

Unlike the Pac-12 Conference, if you want to help Uighurs and learn more about their plight in Western China, please visit the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

To help those in Hong Kong protesting and fighting for their freedom, there are a host of resources listed in this Subreddit post on r/HongKong.

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