The Pac-12 conference is going digital in a big way, with the launch of a website and an iPad app that will let college sports fans follow all their favorite teams wherever they are. The whole thing was made possible because 18 months ago, the conference decided to consolidate all of its media rights, and launch its own sports networks for fans of its teams. It then built a studio in San Francisco for the TV networks and hired a digital team to create an online and mobile presence.
Now, all of that work is paying off, especially on the digital side of things. The digital team was formed in February, and has just 12 team members. Yet, in just six months it launched the Pac-12 video site has live feeds from its various networks, as well as a ton of on-demand video, including recaps of key matchups, exclusive interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories about student athletes, faculty, and their universities.
And today, it’s coming out with the Pac-12 iPad app. The app will provide users access to all the same content as the website, and will include personalization features to let users decide which universities and which sports are most important to them. That includes an interactive programming guide that will show content tailored to them, as well as highlighting events that are live and those which are trending. By connecting with Facebook and Twitter, fans will be able to see what their friends are saying while watching live matchups.
Both the Pac-12 video site and iPad app were created in conjunction with Ooyala. The network worked closely with the streaming provider, which built a unified digital broadcasting studio to stream across a wide range of devices. In addition to the iPad, Pac-12 is looking to create additional apps for the iPhone and Android devices.
The only drawback to the app might be that it’s part of Pac-12′s TV Everywhere strategy. As such, users must verify that they are cable subscribers to access live streams, and not all pay TV providers are on board yet. Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks will be able to log in with their cable credentials using Adobe Pass. But Comcast subscribers and those who are on smaller Tier 2 cable nets won’t be able to access those streams yet. (Pac-12 says it’s working on that, and in the meantime live streams are available to Comcast customers by logging into its Xfinity TV website.)
The conference has seven college sports networks, including its flagship Pac-12 Network, as well as six others built around paired regional universities. So for instance, Oregon and Oregon State share a regional channel, as do the University of Washington and Washington State. That way regional fans can key in on the teams and matchups that they care most about.
Collectively, the networks will broadcast 850 different Pac-12 events across all sports over the next year. All of those will be available on the web and on the iPad app. But with its digital capabilities, there’s an opportunity to go beyond that and possibly to stream additional content that won’t make it to broadcast.