Lydia Murphy-Stephans, a former Olympic speed skater and a veteran executive at ABC Sports and the MSG Network, was named executive vice president and general manager of the new Pac-12 Networks, which are to launch next August.
Murphy-Stephans is to report to Gary Stevenson, head of the new Pac-12 Enterprises that is also running the sponsorship, digital properties and legal divisions of the company that will be headquartered in an yet-to-be-chosen location in the Bay Area.
Murphy-Stephans is to oversee the development, launch and management of the Pac-12 Networks, with an emphasis on programming and production. She and her team are tasked with producing live events in virtually every sport from Pac-12 campuses, as well as creating studio shows and other original programming.
She brings more that 25 years of experience in network television to the job, including leadership positions in programming and production at ABC Sports.
Murphy-Stephans said she hoped to hire 10 to 15 people in the next 60 days, and Stevenson said that by the time the network launches, he hopes to have hired 100 to 150 people.
Although Los Angeles is home to many television production facilities -- with Fox Sports West and the West Coast edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter" headquartered within a block of Staples Center, where the Pac-12 holds its conference basketball tournament -- Stevenson said it made more sense for the new network to be based in Northern California, near the conference offices in Walnut Creek and near Silicon Valley.
"While we're talking about our linear television networks, we will also be creating content for our company, and our content will be repurposed in a lot of different ways. We have had a heck of a lot of conversations with new media companies in the Silicon Valley, and the proximity to these companies, which offer ways to distribute content in the future, was a plus, as was, at the end of the day, proximity to the conference office," he said.
Stevenson said the new network plans to produce 850 live events next year. He and Murphy-Stephans plan to tour all of the Pac-12 campuses in the next six weeks to make sure each is equipped to handle the production of live events for the new network.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Pac 12 helmet. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.