Early reviews are in, and the Pac-12 Network is looking pretty good. Solid original programming, good team and sport previews, and various reairing of classic games from last year and through the ages. For the most part, the early adopters have to be pleased with what they're seeing.
However, it has yet to really achieve the most important success: National distribution. Cable carriers that made the original carriage agreement with the conference are seemingly shutting the doors on the Pac-12 Network outside current Pac-12 markets. If there isn't latent demand for the network, the cable carriers have pretty much tuned out airing the network. So fans out of market could struggle to find any way to view the conference on TV or online (which is tethered to television service).
This problem can be solved with DirectTV coming to the table and agreeing to air the network in its sports tier. The satellite company can instantly provide the needed national distribution that will allow any college football fan (and probably more importantly, sports bar or restaurant) the means to watch the network anywhere across the country.
Having pieced together information from various sources, it appears the Pac-12 and DirecTV are close to a carriage deal.
Does that mean an agreement in the next few hours … or days … or next week? I’m not sure of the exact timing. And as with any negotiation, last-minute snags are always possible.
But it sure seems like only that — a last-minute snag — will prevent the two sides from reaching a deal prior to the start of the football season.
If/when they do partner up, it won’t take long for the Pac12Nets to begin airing on DirecTV — the groundwork is already being laid for signal transmission, according to sources.
It was an inevitability that both parties would eventually see eye-to-eye. Sports programming is what DirectTV offers as its main course, starting with the highly profitable NFL Sunday Ticket. DirectTV needs the Pac-12 Network to maintain its subscriptions on the West Coast or risk losing a sizable portion of their subscribers to the West Coast cable carriers providing the network.
Obviously all these plans aren't going off without a hitch. But if the conference can obtain national distribution on the biggest satellite carrier in the States and ensure access to every national market in both your homes, your local sports bars, and eventually your mobile devices, then the Pac-12 has to consider this a decisive victory for Year 1 of their grand project.
Note: If you have Dish Network, abort abort abort.