The much ballyhooed Pac-12 Networks debut at 6 p.m. Wednesday, bringing the conference out of TV's comparative Dark Ages and providing unprecedented Pac-12 programming to millions of viewers.

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When the lights go on for the first time, the networks are on track to launch in potentially 48 million homes.

With a 12-year contract with Fox and ESPN in place, the Pac-12 Networks ensure that all Pac-12 football games and men's basketball games not broadcast by Fox or ESPN will be televised live this season.


There will be unheard of coverage of men's and women's Olympic sports.


The programming will also be available on computers, tablets and smartphones.


Comcast, which has a large imprint on the Portland-area market, will have Pac-12 Networks events on channels 420 and 421 and channel 720 in high definition.


Pac-12 Networks


What:


One national and seven regional channels (Arizona, Los Angeles, Oregon, Mountain and Washington). Available on TV, computers, tablets and smartphones.


When:


Debuts at 6 p.m. Wednesday.


Where it is:


Comcast (Channels 420 and 421, HD on 720; part of $7.95 per month Sports and Entertainment Tier). Also on Cox, Time Warner, Brighthouse, Frontier, BendBroadband, Canby Digital Television, Wave Broadband, Western Digital and the National Cable Television Cooperative


Where it isn't:


DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and AT&T.


How to find out:


Check the


"channel finder" at pac-12.org

.


OSU, UO games on it:


Sept. 1: Nicholls State at OSU


Sept. 8: Fresno State at UO


Sept. 15: Tennessee Tech at UO


The Pac-12 Networks -- based in San Francisco -- is actually launching seven channels, one national and six regional airing 850 live events combined in year one.


The six regional channels: Pac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Los Angeles, Pac-12 Oregon, Pac-12 Bay Area, Pac-12 Mountain (Utah and Colorado) and Pac-12 Washington.


The conference also will launch a national network for areas not in the Pac-12 footprint.


Check with your local provider outside of the Portland area -- in addition to Comcast the Pac-12 Networks have secured distribution deals with Cox, Time Warner, Brighthouse, Frontier, Bend Broadband, Canby Digital Television, Wave Broadband, Western Digital and the National Cable Television Cooperative, which encompasses almost 1,000 cable companies in small and medium-size markets.


"It's going to be awesome," Stanford football coach David Shaw told the San Jose Mercury News. "We've been fortunate the last couple years to have a lot of national games. Now every game will be national. Recruits will be able to see every game."


For the Pac-12 schools who don't have the national swagger of USC, Stanford or Oregon, the networks launch is terrific news.


"It will give us national and regional exposure that we can't buy," said Steve Fenk, an associate athletic director at Oregon State. "We will not only be able to showcase the football and basketball programs, but also all of our Olympic Sports -- many of which have had tremendous success recently at the national level."


Comcast will carry the Pac-12 Oregon regional network as part of its Digital Starter Package.


The national Pac-12 network will be part of Comcast's Sports and Entertainment tier of channels, which includes others such as the Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, and FCS Atlantic, Central, and Pacific. On Comcast, the Sports and Entertainment Tier is an additional $7.95 a month.


Not all cable providers have embraced the Pac-12 networks. The conference has yet to come to terms with DirecTV or Dish Network – a glaring hole – and has also not reached agreements with Verizon and AT&T among others. Industry insiders seem to think DirecTV will come into the field, but Dish may be a tougher sell.


"Any conversation we've had with them has been encouraging," said Gary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, the conference's marketing and multimedia subsidiary. "And it's encouraging because they believe we have very good content."


According to Stevenson 1,350 events (not all live) will air across all seven channels in the first year, including 35 football games, approximately 135 men's basketball games and "the best of the best" Olympic sports.


Stevenson said each of the six regional channels will have an additional 100 events, upward of 50 from each school.


What will delight thousands of smart phone-wielding football fans is this: If your cable company has the Pac-12 Network, you can watch the channel anytime, anywhere on your mobile device.


"Let's say you're traveling in Florida and you want to watch Utah play a football game," said Stevenson. "You just put your authentication number in and you'll be able to watch that game on your iPad while you're sitting on the beach."


"The accessibility for our fans is just mind-boggling," University of Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne told the Arizona Republic.


-- Paul Buker


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