By Jim McDannald
The Pac-12 office released the following statement today with regards to the broadcast of indoor track and field meets from the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor:
Beginning this year, the Pac-12 schools entered into an agreement in which their media rights were controlled by the Conference. With these rights, the Pac-12 Conference has launched the Pac-12 Networks – seven linear and one digital network – that is dedicated exclusively to covering Pac-12 sporting events. As part of the Pac-12 Networks, we have developed a platform to stream sporting events from our campuses live on Pac-12.com, and our schools have the option to stream as many events through Pac-12.com as they would like throughout the year. As the Pac-12 Networks continue to grow, our vision is to stream and archive more events for track and field fans on Pac-12.com.
I spoke with Erik Hardenbergh, Pac-12 VP of Public Affairs, this afternoon to clarify the details of the released statement.
Pac-12 member schools have signed a broadcasting rights contract with Pac-12 Network that came into effect in August of 2012. This contract prohibits third parties (i.e. RunnerSpace, Flotrack) from broadcasting or uploading videos from meets featuring university athletes hosted by Pac-12 member schools. The only website that will be allowed to broadcast and host this content moving forward is Pac-12.com or the host school’s own website. Meets that feature only masters, professional or high school athletes (like the Brooks PR Invitational) do not fall under this restriction.
As far as the current infrastructure, Mr. Hardenbergh relates that producing video coverage of meets is the sole responsibility of the schools. Member schools like the University of Washington have the option of broadcasting meets themselves or contracting out broadcasting duties to a third party for use on Pac-12.com. For example, the University of Oregon has a 10 year, $67 million dollar multimedia/adverstising/broadcasting deal with IMG. Oregon appears to have infrastructure in place to broadcast and archive meets on their site GoDucks.com.
In future years, the Pac-12 plans to continue growing Pac-12.com’s coverage of sports like track and field. In the mean time, the Pac-12 is taking a hardline stance on this issue and unwilling to let third parties fill this gap in content. Until the athletic department officials at the University of Washington determine the best course of action for broadcasting meets, there will be no coverage from the Dempsey Indoor this season.
Correction (1/23/2013): I had previously written that the date of the contract came into effect in January of 2013. The correct time is August of 2012.