The Pac-12 Network has enough distribution from the major cable carriers to feel good about its future. With distribution through the four major cable carriers (which should land them in around 40 million houses), the next job is gaining distribution with everyone else.
The next step is the satellite companies. What's going to happen there? DirectTV has already made it clear they're not quite as eager to follow the lead of the cable companies. David Goetzl of MediaPost has more.
In looking to rein in content fees, White said DirecTV isn’t sure what it will do with the Pac-12 Network group. "We’re not going to have seven channels -- I can assure you of that," he said.
So this pretty much cancels out the crazy idea that everyone would be able to pick up all seven channels everywhere. Like anyone expected that out of the box.
There are three potential options going forward.
1) DirectTV doesn't carry the network. This is an unlikely option because of the popularity the network should have in the critical Los Angeles area. A hold out could force many subscribers to switch to Time Warner (the cable company that services the L.A. area). Similar holdouts could occur throughout the West Coast and lead to a critical reduction in sales in this region. Not a very profitable outcome happening here.
2.) DirectTV decides to serve the national network and the national network only. The regional networks will be deemed too narrow for pickup, and the conference will just have to settle with getting the widest possible distribution net until the other regional channels are deemed successful enough to be somehow incorporated into a national sports package.
3.) DirectTV decides to distribute the national network and the regional network for all non-premier options, then allow the option to carry and distribute all regular
I suspect (2) is going to be the natural compromise for at least this first year, which will mean that DirectTV will be a serviceable option for most Pac-12 fans across the country. Remember the Pac-12 national network is dedicated to distributing all the football games, which will be the most crucial event for most Pac-12 fans (basketball and everything else will take a backseat). As long as the football games are picked up, probably 70-80% of Pac-12 fans will be happy enough with the service that they wouldn't mind foregoing the more comprehensive regional coverage of their teams.
So for East Coast fans who just want a connection back to their conference, DirectTV should suffice.
I presume that Dish Network will follow whatever line DirectTV and the Pac-12 agree to at the table.