The Pacific 10 Conference will announce Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with Fox and ESPN on the largest television contract of any college league, a deal worth about $3 billion over 12 years that will earn each school about $21 million a year.
The Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12 with the official addition of Colorado and Utah on July 1, and the new TV contract won't begin until the fall of 2012. At that point, football games will be spread over ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox and FX, with some basketball carried by Fox Sports Net.
Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said the deal leaves room for the conference to launch its own network next year, similar to what the Big Ten Conference started in 2007 in partnership with Fox.
Whereas the Big Ten only owns 49% of its network, Scott said the Pac-12 will keep total ownership of its network.
Scott said the Pac-12 will save premium content for its conference network -- ESPN and Fox will have the rights to 44 football games a season with a Pac-12 network getting the rights to 36 football games.
"And the [Pac-12] network will have very high-quality games," Scott said, "with either the first, second or third selections in different weeks. The conference network will have the best game of the week a couple of weeks each season.
"The ESPN family and Fox will have 68 basketball games and we'll have over 100 games for the Pac-12, and again a high quality."
Scott said the league also plans to develop its own digital network, similar to ESPN3, that will carry up to 500 events a year. Scott said he expects a Pac-12 network and the digital network to be up and running by August of 2012.
"We're very pleased with where we've ended up," Scott said. "And we're looking forward to the next phase and solidifying the arrangement for our network." It is possible, Scott said, that the Pac-12 network could end up somewhere other than Fox or ESPN.
The Pac-10's new TV deal is worth about $225 million annually to the league. This year the league got $60 million from its deal with Fox and ESPN.
The Big Ten gets about $220 million from ABC and ESPN, the Southeastern Conference $205 million from ESPN and CBS, the Atlantic Coast Conference $155 million from ESPN and the Big 12 about $130 million from Fox.
The Big 12's deal is lower because it lacks major content from Texas, which is starting its own network in September in cooperation with ESPN.
There is also a clause in the new Pac-12 contract that restricts the scheduling of nonconference football games to the first three weeks of the season without a waiver carrying the approval of all 12 of the league's athletic directors.
However, Scott said the USC-Notre Dame game, one of the nation's longest and most tradition-filled rivalries, is exempt from the mandate, as is the Stanford-Notre Dame game.
The USC-Notre Dame game is typically scheduled in October for games in South Bend or November in L.A.
The new deal will put an end to the traditional Thursday-Saturday basketball scheduling, according to two people with knowledge of the contract who aren't authorized to speak publicly about the details. ESPN will be showing games Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Also Fox and ESPN will alternate broadcasting the conference championship football game. Fox, which already signed an agreement to televise the 2011 game, will also televise the 2012 game. ESPN will televise the 2012 Pac-12 men's basketball tournament and will also have the rights to the women's championship.