Just days after he was formally announced as president of Pac-12 Enterprises, SportsNewser had a chance to chat exclusively with Gary Stevenson.
The sports marketing and media executive comes to the Pac-12 from OnSports, a consulting firm Stevenson founded in 1997. In fact, the then-Pac-10 was one of Stevenson’s clients along with the likes of the PGA Tour and NASCAR.
Stevenson discussed the importance of striking a deal with the satellite companies for the national and regional networks along with what content Pac-12 fans can expect across their digital properties.
SportsNewser: The then-Pac-10 was one of your OnSport clients. How much did your prior relationship with the conference come into play when Larry Scott called you about the position?
Gary Stevenson: From my prior relationship with the conference, I got a real understanding of what the conference brand and the schools brand stood for. That was intriguing to me. Anytime you’re going to launch a network, it’s important what the brand is that’s affiliated with the network. We have such a huge start because the brand is on such an excellent level.
How many employees do you see the Pac-12 hiring and when?
That’s a hard question to put an exact timeframe on. What I can tell is at some point we anticipate that we will have over 100 employees working for the network. Exactly when they come and when they’re hired, I don’t know exactly. But at some point I think we will be in excess of 100 employees.
Do you expect other conferences to follow the Pac-12 model of creating regional and national networks?
I think any conference would like to follow the model but I think it’s going to be a difficult model to follow because the stars aligned really nicely here and Larry [Scott] had a vision that allowed this to happen. I think it will be difficult to duplicate.
While the TV networks will obviously be home to a majority of the live telecasts, how much content can fans expect across the Pac-12 digital properties?
What’s nice about not just having a national network, six regional networks, and our digital networks, is we will have the ability to really get in depth on a number of stories and content that right now we just don’t have the airtime for. The ability to tell stories about Hall of Fame athletes and where they are now. The ability to talk to coaches that set the standard a long time ago. The ability to really dig into rivalries and some of the great rivalry games and rivalry stories. The ability to dig into athletes and Olympic sports and what their background is and where they come from. There are just so many unique stories to tell that haven’t been told yet.
What can the Pac-12 regional networks take away from the setbacks the Longhorn Network has faced?
Well, I can’t really comment on what the Longhorn Network has done other than what I’ve read. What I can tell is our regional networks will really focus on the activities of the schools within that region. To me, that is what the Pac-12 fan is interested in. If you’re an Arizona fan, you can’t get enough information about Arizona sports. You can’t watch enough games that Arizona athletes are competing in. Our focus will be on those two schools in each of the regional networks.
Has there been any thought about the broadcast teams – are you looking for the voice of the Pac-12?
I think there are going to be a lot of interesting candidates that surface along that line, but that will be a decision the head of the networks will make.
You’re a year away from launch, but what are the chances that the Pac-12 will be able to strike a deal with Dish and DirecTV?
Clearly that’s a priority for us. We have fans that have satellite rather than cable and it’s important for us to do everything we can do to be on their air. We hope to accomplish that.