Commissioner Larry Scott meets with the media
LAS VEGAS - Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott addressed the media just prior to the semifinal sessions at the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament Friday afternoon. In its first season at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the tournament has been a rousing success for the league with thrilling on-court performances, record attendance and increased fan interest on Pac-12.com and Pac-12 Networks.
"From top to bottom this has really been a terrific year for the conference and basketball, with great performances, great fan support for what we're doing, and certainly improved national recognition for where Pac‑12 basketball is at," Scott said. "When I look back on the stats from this year, to think that half the games this year were decided by five points or less, it's hard to imagine a more competitive conference than what we've had in the Pac‑12 this year."
Scott announced that in addition to a significant uptick in the number of fans attending the tournament, the semifinals session was sold out hours in advance as Arizona, UCLA, Utah and Oregon all tried to survive and advance on Friday.
"This is the kind of atmosphere that we envisioned and hoped for when we thought about moving the tournament from Los Angeles," he said. "This was the objective, the kinds of crowds, the dynamic atmosphere that we've witnessed. That was our top priority."
Here are a few other notable remarks from Commissioner Scott:
On the increase in exposure for Pac-12 hoops:
"This is the first year of our new 12‑year agreement with ESPN and FOX, and, of course, the first year of the launch of the Pac‑12 Networks that has resulted in every single men's basketball game being telecast this year, available to audiences throughout the country.
"Being back on ESPN is something that our coaches have been talking to me about for a while as we were thinking about our new media agreement, and I also believe that's contributed to a better national perception of the conference, more appreciation, more following for the conference by some of the national influencers.
"We will have had 47 games on ESPN when they broadcast our championship game tomorrow night, 22 games on FOX, and over 150 on the Pac‑12 Networks.
On the interest in Pac-12 basketball online:
"We've seen our best week ever for Pac-12.com since everything was relaunched last summer. Fans have consumed more than 10,000 hours of video this week and downloaded the Pac‑12 Now iPad and iPhone app more than 3,000 times. This is the app that allows you to watch the Pac‑12 Networks on your devices on your iPad or your iPhone."
On Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV:
"At this point we have 355 distributors carrying the Pac‑12 Network, including four of the top five in the country. So we're a regional‑wide audience, and from my perspective, launching a network is very much a long‑term objective and proposition - a great asset for the conference and our schools. It's obviously a series of building blocks that you put in place. But our first efforts in the first year have been terrific.
"I want to reiterate, we are ready to make an agreement with DirecTV. We're eager to do so. We've offered them the same terms, essentially, as to the other 55 distributors are carrying. Unfortunately, they've refused to take it at this point in time. The offer is fair. It's serious, and again, it's consistent with what the other 55 are taking, and we simply hope that they agree to take it soon, certainly in advance of the upcoming football season, and we'll stop depriving their customers and our fans of the great content."
On a long-term agreement with the MGM Grand:
"We committed to three years feeling like that's the kind of time you really need to see how an event works in a market. I think it's fair to say year one has exceeded our expectations in many respects. We've also got a list of things we'll work hard to improve upon. But [it's been] a very good year, and I think there is a lot of potential for this to go beyond three years."
On Pac-12 games moving to Fox Sports One:
"The games that you watched on FX in football will likely migrate to FOX Sports One. When it comes to basketball, they have 22 games that aired on FSN this year, in addition to the 47 ESPN had.
"It's our expectation that some portion of those, if not all, are going to migrate to FOX Sports One. We're excited about it. They're making a very big push."