Seattle, WA – Key Arena
Shortly before the quarterfinals began at the 2017 Women’s Basketball PAC-12 Championship in Seattle, WA at the Key Arena earlier this Spring, we got a chance to sit down with PAC-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans to get an inside look at the extraordinary transformation the conference has gone through since the advent of the PAC-12 Networks. With one of the new segments of editorial content being ‘Media In Sports’ in 2017, we were honored to chat with this very dynamic leader who has helped transform the way we consume sports media both here in the United States, but also all around the world.
Q: Tell us about the inception of the PAC-12 Network
A: We’re now in our fifth year of the PAC-12 Networks. Our initial mission was to create a media company owned by the twelve universities and managed by the PAC-12 conference. The impetus was to provide more exposure to the schools and student-athletes which today we are now producing 850 LIVE events across 32 sports each academic year. Which means sports like Women’s basketball and all the olympic sports that didn’t get television exposure before now get significant national and sometimes global exposure. We are now achieving this through TV networks and across the digital platforms including social media.
Q: What do you think has helped you achieved success in such a short period of time with the PAC-12 Network?
There was an amazing foundation in place. The PAC-10, which became the PAC-12, had phenomenal athletic teams both in women and men’s sports as the conference of champions with 493 NCAA championships to call our own. And what my staff and I have done since the inception of the network was to build on a stellar foundation that was already in place. There was this amazing brand and level of athletic talent within the conference and so with the media company what we did was build the infrastructure to be able to provide exposure for that talent. I also think the advancement in technology has helped us significantly over the last four years. When we launched a handful of years ago, twitter was not streaming video, Instagram did not exist and Facebook was not streaming live. And those are all different vehicles for us to now partner with and distribute content. So we came along when the timing was just right with both technology and the content we had to showcase.
Q: Tell us about your leadership team.
A: At the initial stages when we were in the planning phases for the network, we were thinking of it as a multi-faceted media company. We never though of it as a set of family of TV networks, so we decided to run parallel paths of the liner side of the business and the digital side of the business that allowed both our network staff and conference staff to work together and side by side. The PAC-12 network consists of around 185 full-time staffers and over 1500 freelance workers across our six states that bring a unique blend of highly skilled media people along with highly skilled tech savvy team members.
Q: Tell us about your Networks production footprint and structure in terms of operations and athletic coverage.
PAC-12 networks is owned by the 12 Universities. We produce over 850 events and over 550 hours of content across six states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Utah. Our twelve Universities include UCLA, USC, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, University of Oregon, Oregon State, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Washington, Washington State University, University of Colorado and the University of Utah where we have over 110 athletic venues.
Q: What’s new to PAC-12 Networks this year and what’s to come in the future?
A: Being headquartered close to silicon valley certainly has its advantages for us. Thus allowing us to strategically position ourselves to partner with all the technology that allows us to deliver our content. This last year we added twitter LIVE and Sling TV. PAC-12 Networks currently is also delivered over the top internationally on both YouTube and EverSport. Making us available in every country in the world outside the United States that has Internet service. Our focus now is to maximize the distribution both domestically and internationally.
Prior to becoming the President of the PAC-12 network, Murphy-Stevens cut her teeth as a young producer for ABC sports. She also was a member of the 1984 Olympic speed skating team.