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DirecTV & Pac-12 Network Still Have No Deal Despite Lakers Agreement

Why would DirecTV come to the table and make a deal with the Time Warner Sports Net channel that distributes Laker games, while continuously ignoring the demands of Pac-12 fans who want the Pac-12 Network?

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

DirecTV and the Lakers have come to a deal to carry the exorbitantly-priced Time Warner network. The Pac-12 Network remains in the dark. The Pac-12 isn't terribly pleased with the situation and seems to be plenty confused.

DirecTV’s decision to carry Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet this week sends another mixed signal to Pac-12 fans, particularly those in Southern California. They cited that Lakers fans were the reason they added the network. Meanwhile, Pac-12 fans, despite continuous demands for the content they want, have been shut out. There is no denying that the Lakers, USC and UCLA are iconic brands with extremely passionate fans bases.

With the Laker channel, it seemed almost every other major Los Angeles cable carrier signed up for the service. Thus, there was a SERIOUS chance that many DirecTV subscribers who are Laker fans who wanted to defect to a carrier with the channel could very well do so.

The Pac-12 Network continues to ask for a paltry sum compared to what the Lakers demanded. Time Warner Cable's Sports Net channel had a demand of about $3-$4 per subscriber per month, similar to what YES (the Yankees cable provider) asks from its customers. The Pac-12 is asking for only a fraction of that price from their subscribers, and I very much doubt that demand for the Laker network is three to four times the price.

Again, this seems to be a situation where DirecTV wants to bargain their subscribers down based on regional demand. Time Warner Cable probably had to bargain down their price to get DirecTV to the table, something that the Pac-12 is not willing to do. The Pac-12 wants to ensure its pricing structure remains fair across the board to all of their cable and satellite subscribers and that not one carrier gets a better deal than anyone else. It's a plan that Dish and most of the major cable providers in the country has been quite happy with running with for the past few months.

If I had to guess, DirecTV is going to hold out for as long as possible before coming to an arrangement to carry the Pac-12 Network. By "as long as possible", I mean that DirecTV is going to have to hemorrhage customers or face incredible fire regionally. The Pac-12 Network isn't quite as saturated in the big cities (particularly Los Angeles), which probably means that there isn't enough means or ability for fans to defect on a regional scale as the Lakers fans, which means there probably won't be quite as many losses.

Which isn't to say that USC football or UCLA basketball fans aren't going to demand their sports. But passing up on over 50 Lakers games is a bit much compared to a handful of UCLA hoops or USC football contests that can otherwise be viewed through alternative carriers. DirecTV probably knew they would lose customers much faster to Laker alternatives, and got to the table a bit quicker than they would with the Pac-12 Network.

Right now, the Pac-12 Network has to hold their line and wait for more carriers to sign up, particularly the telecos like Verizon FiOs and AT&T U-Verse. Either one of those two coming to the table would be a huge step forward (particularly U-Verse) because it would further saturate the market with alternatives. Demand would have to be limited. It's one of those things that just requires patience.

The situation is the same: All you can do is demand the Pac-12 Network if you're a DirecTV customer, or look for alternatives if you can't. Start with the Pac-12 Channel Finder and go from there.