There are a few further things to consider with the network, including their high numbers of events (850 per year) and that most of the Olympic sports events are not watched by enough people to merit a rating, so they’re spending a lot of money (an estimated $15,000 to $25,000 per Olympic sports event) on producing content that isn’t watched by a lot of people. And they have to do some of that to live up to their promises to distributors of events per year, and part of the challenge there is with the structure of six regional networks in addition to a national network, which also has been a big stumbling block in getting on DirecTV; the regional setup is far more effective for cable systems than satellite. Moreover, even if the Pac-12 Networks were doing okay in their own right (which they may or may not be, depending on your reading of these numbers), they’re suffering by comparison to the SEC Network and the Big Ten Network, helping schools in those conferences to further pull away in terms of media rights revenue.
Also, unlike the SEC Network (ESPN) and the Big Ten Network (Fox), the Pac-12 Networks don’t have a major media network partner to help with distribution, event coverage, and so on. And, in an effort to gain the most value from their first-tier football and basketball rights, most of the content that’s left for the Pac-12 Networks isn’t all that compelling, which is a big part of why DirecTV can continue to say “We don’t need you”; there isn’t enough truly in-demand content on those networks to require them to pick them up. This report is just a further illustration of some of the challenges the Pac-12 Networks are facing, but it’s a notable one, and one that shows that even their subscriber growth expansion doesn’t necessarily solve their long-term issues.