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News Update
Pac 12 Network: We're Still Talking to DIRECTV
 By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (September 12, 2013) - This is an update to our earlier coverage of the DIRECTV-Pac 12 Network programming dispute and the regional sports channel's efforts to get carried by others. (See earlier articles below.)


The Pac 12 Network says it's still talking to DIRECTV about carrying the regional sports channel despite a chilly relationship between the two companies, reports the Seattle Times.

The perception has been that the two sides are far apart with DIRECTV holding out for the channel to be offered for a separate monthly fee rather than in a programming package.

This is considered a deal-breaker for the Pac 12 Network because it gets more viewers -- and ad dollars -- if it's carried in a package. Other TV providers that have agreed to carry the channel are offering it in packages.



The Seattle Times writes that a "Pac 12 Network executive" says his company and DIRECTV last met face-to-face in late July at the conference's media day event. But they also have periodic phone conversations.

The fact that the two companies are still willing to talk may give some comfort to DIRECTV fans of West Coast college football and basketball who want the channel added. But there still seems to be no indication that a deal is even remotely close.

Dan York, DIRECTV's chief content officer, tells the Seattle Times that most of the games broadcast by the Pac 12 Network can be seen on other networks such as ESPN.

But the Pac 12 says the satcaster is underestimating its value.

See earlier articles on this subject below.
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News Update
AT&T Agrees to Carry Pac 12 Network
 By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (September 7, 2013) - This is an update to our earlier coverage of the DIRECTV-Pac 12 Network programming dispute and the regional sports channel's efforts to get carried by others. (See earlier articles below.)


AT&T's U-Verse TV service has agreed to carry the Pac 12 Network effective today with coverage of five different Pac 12 college football games.

The telco said in a press release that it will carry three different Pac 12 channels, which will give its subscribers access to more than 700 live Pac 12 events in the 2013-2014 season. (The Pac 12 Network offers seven channels in total, allowing the network to offer regional coverage in several markets at the same.) The three channels will cover national games and regional games in the Bay area and Los Angeles.

"This deal provides a great value for our U-verse customers, who benefit from a terrific package of sporting events," said Aaron Slator, President of content and advertising for AT&T.

The three Pac 12 HD channels that AT&T will carry will be on 1759, 1760 and 1761.

The 600-pound elephant in the press release, if you will, is DIRECTV, which has yet to agree to carry the Pac 12 Network. The nation's top satcaster has suggested it wants to offer the Pac 12 Network as a separate channel for a separate fee rather than in a programming package as AT&T now does.

Dish Network has already added the Pac 12 Network, as does Cox, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network in select markets. They also offer the channel in various programming packages.

See earlier articles on this subject below.
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News Update
DIRECTV's Growing Sports Problem
 By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (August 13, 2013) - This is an update to our earlier coverage of the DIRECTV-Pac 12 Network programming dispute. (See earlier article below.)


The Pac 12 Network yesterday launched an advertising campaign designed to persuade DIRECTV subscribers to switch TV providers so they can watch their favorite Pac 12 college football and basketball teams.

The move is the latest salvo in the fee fight between the two companies.
Dish, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox have all made the Pac 12 Network part of a programming bundle in their carriage deals. But DIRECTV has held out, suggesting the Pac 12 Network should agree to be sold as a separate channel for a separate fee.

Consequently, Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott recently said it's unlikely the Pac 12 Network will reach a deal with DIRECTV this year, which means that 1.4 million DIRECTV viewers in the regional sports channel's coverage area would not have access to its college football and basketball games.

To turn up the heat, The Los Angeles Times writes that the Pac 12 advertising campaign features TV commercials that show pictures of UCLA Bruins on the Pac 12 Network and pictures of real bruin cubs on DIRECTV. "Trojans on DIRECTV" depicts photos of Roman soldiers while "Trojans on the Pac 12 Network" shows the USC football team in action. (See video below.)

The idea, of course, is to emphasize the obvious: DIRECTV fans are not getting the real deal.

The San Jose Mercury writes that the ads will appear in all Pac 12 markets in print, digital and radio.

DIRECTV is sticking to its guns, but the satcaster is also involved in three other sports battles. One, the satcaster has refused thus far to agree to terms with the new Fox Sports 1 channel, which launches August 17. The channel, which hopes to compete with ESPN, is expected to be hotly in demand and DIRECTV could face some subscriber backlash if it does not carry it.

In addition, DIRECTV has yet to sign an agreement to carry the CSN Houston regional sports channel, which airs the Houston Rockets and Houston Astros games. And it is now beginning negotiations to renew its long-standing deal with the NFL for the NFL Sunday Ticket. (DIRECTV has the exclusive rights to the package through the 2014 season.)

In all cases, DIRECTV is charging that the content providers are asking for too much money to carry their channels and, consequently, it believes it needs to draw a line in the sand. However, DIRECTV has been the self-anointed leader in sports programming since its debut in 1994 and its continued failure to add new sports channels could eventually hurt its marketing effort.

Below is a commercial from the Pac 12 Network's new advertising campaign:



See below for more coverage of this issue.
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News Update
Pac 12 Network: DIRECTV Deal Unlikely This Year
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (July 27, 2013) - This is an update to our earlier coverage of the DIRECTV-Pac 12 Network programming dispute. (See earlier article below.)


Pac 12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott yesterday said it's unlikely the Pac 12 Network will reach a deal with DIRECTV this year, which means that 1.4 DIRECTV million viewers in the regional sports channel's coverage area would not have access to its college football and basketball games.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Scott said network officials met with DIRECTV last week but the two sides remain at odds over how the channel would be distributed to the satcaster's audience.

DIRECTV would prefer the channel be offered for a separate monthly fee while the Pac 12 Network wants to be part of a programming bundle which would generate more viewers and more advertising dollars.

Dish, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox have all made the Pac 12 Network part of a programming bundle in their carriage deals.

"With a month to go (to college football seasons)," Scott told reporters at media day yesterday, according to the Times, "I want to be up front with our fans still unable to watch the Pac 12 Network. As recently as last week, we discussed a deal with DIRECTV that is fundamentally the same as the 50 plus other networks that carry the network and we are still at an impasse, no closer to a deal."

The Times writes that DIRECTV spokesman Robert Mercer countered:

"The decision is entirely up to the Pac 12. We would love to give the network to those customers who want it...There are a number of things the Pac 12 can do to make it work. Either lower the price so that it's affordable to all of our customers or let us sell the network only to those who want to pay for it."

Scott said Pac 12 fans will have to switch TV providers if they want to watch the Pac 12 Network this season.
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News Update
DIRECTV to Pac 12 Network: You Want All Or Nothing
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (July 22, 2013) - This is an update to our earlier coverage of the DIRECTV-Pac 12 Network programming dispute. (See earlier article below.)


For several weeks, DIRECTV's web site, DIRECTVPromise.com, publicly ignored the satcaster's fee fight with the Pac 12 Network. While DIRECTVPromise.com was established by DIRECTV to communicate the latest in programming disputes to their subscribers, the company decided more than two months ago to omit any reference to the Pac 12 Network at the site.

DIRECTV apparently was so angry with Pac 12 Network officials' highly-publicized effort to coerce it to add the channel that it decided to turn its back on them.

That is, until now. DIRECTV has quietly added a statement to DIRECTVPromise.com that explains its stance in the controversy. And it is not exactly an olive branch. DIRECTV says the PAC 12 Network is insisting that the channel be included in a DIRECTV programming bundle while DIRECTV wants to offer it as a separate channel with a separate fee.

"Pac 12 continues to cling to its ‘all or nothing’ strategy, insisting that every one of our customers foot the bill for the network when only a fraction of them have expressed any interest in the network at all," the statement reads. "The fact is, we want fans of the Pac 12 to see every game on DIRECTV, which is why we’ve asked the conference to let us offer the network to those who want to pay for it. Where pricey sports networks are concerned, we believe our customers should have the opportunity to choose and get the best value for their money. We can reach an agreement quickly if Pac 12 is willing to give customers that choice at a reasonable price."

It doesn't sound like the two sides will be reaching an agreement anytime soon, which means that DIRECTV viewers this fall will be unable to see the Pac 12 Network's broadcasts of college football and basketball.

Dish, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox have agreed to carry the regional sports channel.

There was not word this morning from the Pac 12 Network on DIRECTV's latest statement.

See our earlier coverage of this issue below.
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News Update
New Pac 12 Network Prez: Drop DIRECTV!
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (May 27, 2013) - This is an update to our earlier coverage of the DIRECTV-Pac 12 Network programming dispute. (See earlier article below.)

Late last month, the Pac 12 Network replaced its president, Gary Stevenson, with Lydia Murphy-Stephans, who had worked in network sports since 1986 and had won 24 Emmys. The speculation was that Murphy-Stephans might be able to use her vast experience and contacts to persuade DIRECTV to carry the regional sports channel.

However, if Murphy-Stephans' initial comments on the dispute are any indication, DIRECTV and the Pac 12 Network remain far apart and the new president is having no success getting the satcaster to meet her half-way.

Murphy-Stephans tells the Seattle Times that Pac 12 Network fans have an "obligation" to drop DIRECTV to pressure the satellite service to carry the channel.

"
There's an obligation as fans, that if they want Pac 12 Networks and DIRECTV is not carrying the Pac 12 Networks, the fan has to be willing to drop DIRECTV and pick up a carrier that is," she said.

Murphy-Stephans, who has worked with the Pac 12 Network since 2011 as general manager, added program distribution to her plate when she assumed the president's role. She is now responsible for getting TV providers to carry the Pac 12 Network, but with Dish, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox already signed up, DIRECTV is her principle target.

But it appears that it's an elusive target as well.

"It's a very difficult and complicated business and I am in the trenches with it," she told the newspaper. "Fans just can't hang onto DIRECTV and put all the onus on the Pac 12. We can offer it and provide DIRECTV with a very fair business offer...but we can't force DIRECTV to take it."

DIRECTV reportedly wants to offer the channel as a separate channel, which would require a separate monthly fee, rather than in a program package. The Pac 12 prefers the package because it means more viewers and, consequently, more ad dollars.

DIRECTV does not seem to be feeling any heat from its subscribers or the Pac 12's PR camapign.
DIRECTVPromise.com, the satcaster's web site that was created to communicate the latest in programming arguments, doesn't even mention the Pac 12 Network on its Sports disputes page. CSN Houston, which DIRECTV is also refusing to carry due to a disagreement over compensation, is listed, but not the Pac 12 Network.

See our April 30, 2013 article on this subject below.
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Washington, D.C. (April 30, 2013) - The fee fight between DIRECTV and the Pac 12 Network seems to have no end in sight. In fact, DIRECTV has put the regional sports network entirely 'out of sight' on its DIRECTVPromise.com page.

DIRECTVPromise.com, the satcaster's web site that was created to communicate the latest in programming arguments, doesn't even mention the Pac 12 Network on its
Sports disputes page. CSN Houston, which DIRECTV is also refusing to carry due to a disagreement over compensation, is listed, but not the Pac 12 Network.

The Pac 12 Network, which airs college basketball and football games from the conference, has been on the air since August and signed carriage deals with a host of providers including Dish, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox.

But DIRECTV's 20 million audience has been an elusive target for the regional sports network and the fact that the satcaster has dropped the channel from its disputes page probably is not a positive sign for current negotiations.

In addition, Multichannel News reports that the Pac 12 Network is replacing the president of Pac 12 Enterprises, a pivotal position in negotiating carriage agreements. The publication did not link the exit of the former president, Gary Stevenson, with the network's inability to land a deal with DIRECTV, but it noted that his replacement, Lydia Murphy-Stephans, has worked in network sports since 1986 and has won 24 Emmys.


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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.



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