May 11, 2010

Pac-10 Hires Hollywood Media Firm in Prep for Own TV Channel

SBJ: Pac-10 hires Hollywood agency CAA with star power in mind
John Ourand, SportsBusiness Journal

Tuesday, May. 11, 2010 - 9:24 a.m. ET

The Pac-10 has hired Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to explore expansion opportunities and advise the conference on its next media rights deal.

The Hollywood-based firm also will help the conference reposition its brand to highlight its nexus to the entertainment (Los Angeles) and technology (Silicon Valley) markets of the U.S.

The three mandates are interrelated and increase the likelihood that the Pac-10 will launch its own cable channel when its current media deals expire after the 2011-12 school year.

The Pac-10 chose CAA last month after a nine-month bidding process that included the conference's previous consultant, Wasserman Media Group, and Allen & Co.

Terms of the deal were not available.

One of the reasons the Pac-10 opted for CAA is the agency's entertainment connections in Hollywood, said Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott, who said the conference plans to use CAA to assist in a full revamping of its brand.

"We want to position ourselves as cutting edge," Scott said. "We're a modern collegiate conference."

The Pac-10 has defined itself as an athletically successful conference, having won more NCAA national titles than any other conference. But Scott, who took over as commissioner last spring, wants the Pac-10 brand to be more contemporary and reflect the influential markets in which it has schools.

CAA also will help stage some of the conference's events. Scott expects some of CAA's celebrity clients to be part of events such as football media day. The agency also will bring an entertainment element to an event like the Pac-10 basketball tournament.

Part of CAA's mandate will be to identify schools and markets where the conference could expand, and any Pac-10 expansion will include bigger media markets that could help give a conference-owned cable channel a bigger base, Scott said.

CAA is developing a business plan for such a channel. The agency also is advising the conference on strategies should it decide against launching its own channel. The conference's current deal, with ESPN and Fox, expires after the 2011-12 school year.

"If I didn't believe a channel was a viable option, I wouldn't have made it part of CAA's mandate," Scott said.

CAA's Chris Bevilacqua and Alan Gold will be the conference's main points of contact through the deal.

The deal is a strategic relationship between CAA Sports and CAA and Evolution Media, which is EMC's sports media advisory practice.

This story first appeared in SportsBusiness Journal, a sister publication of Sporting News

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