For more on the Pac-12/DirectTV situation, go here.
If you're part of one of the original cable providers that signed up with the Pac-12 Network from the beginning, you are no doubt by now enjoying all the amenities the new enterprise has to offer. If you're signed up to watch the TV channel, you should get online streaming access if you're one of the original customers. Most customers for Time Warner and Brighthouse should be pleased, as should the in-market members of Cox.
Unfortunately, the rest of us have to deal with Comcast. By the rest of us, I mean the majority of the country lying outside the Pac-12 footprint.
A lot of people have been complaining to Comcast about not being able to find the Pac-12 Network. Here are the current locations that have gotten the good old Comcast stiff-arm from customer service drone ComcastTeds.
- Minnesota (including Minneapolis)
- Indiana (including Indianapolis)
- Illinois (including Chicago)
- The Washington DC area, including Virginia and local Maryland districts
- Tennessee (including Memphis)
(Hey, but Boston seems to be okay!)
Seriously, ignoring two of the big national markets with plenty of Pac-12 alumni sounds like a terrible idea, and a great way for the cable company to lose customers.
Additionally, Comcast is doing their own online setup for the Pac-12 Network, where you'll only be able to watch the online stream via their XFINITY.tv service on their own site. Why they're doing this when the Pac-12 can probably distribute it better and stronger on their own is an act of true avarice and hubris.
That means when you're trying to watch a Pac-12 telecast via Comcast's services, you'll be subject to the whims of however good the XFINITY service is, which based on Comcast's record isn't terribly promising. Why Comcast is going through the rungs to provide online streaming on their own site is beyond me. My guess is to promote their hideous XFINITY brand, which allows you the opportunity to watch TV and movies online. It's a 20th century approach to a 21st century infrastructure.
Based on how the ESPN channels are set up on XFINITY.tv, Comcast's stream of the Pac-12 Network looks like it could be just a straight stream. Compared to the brand-spanking new Pac-12 website, it'd be a pretty bitter disappointment to have to deal with this third party on a recurring basis to have to view additional content online. It's like expecting a Google Nexus to arrive at your door, only to end up with a Tamagotchi you kill after two days of boredom.
One can only hope the Pac-12 video archives will be available to Comcast customers through the Pac-12 website once this transition is complete. If we don't even get that (or have to navigate what figures to be a hideous XFINITY interface), there could be a serious customer revolt. It'd be like telling your first class passengers to sleep with the baggage.
The big question: Why is Comcast going through all this trouble to distribute the network through its site when they won't even bother to stream the events to a majority of the country?
Are they planning an online-only rollout for the rest of the country? That makes absolutely no sense if you know anything about Comcast; there's no way they'd go out of their way to convenience the customer, and they're not about to discount part of their audience to show a channel as niche as ours to the rest of the country at bargain prices.
If I had to guess, Comcast is waiting to see if DirectTV ends up carrying the Pac-12 Network. If they do, they will quickly concede and offer the channel on their sports tier to ensure they don't lose customers in the Eastern part of the country, the same way DirecTV will probably concede to offering the channel to avoid being gutted of their West Coast clientele. Cox might end up doing the same for their large TV markets like Cleveland and New Orleans if demand is high enough.
They will then provide the online rollout on their network just before the football games start. That rollout will allow them to promote their various other XFINITY online products (like their inferior Netflix knockoff that allows you to watch shows and a very limited movie selection on their video service) while you're stuck trying to maneuver through Comcast's clunky and archaic web player. It's annoying, stupid, and greedy, and terrible corporate practice.
It's a cynical game being played by these bands of roving television vultures. You'd expect nothing less from the cable people.