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AT&T wants equity in Pac-12 Network for DirecTV deal: Pac-12 independence at an end?

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How closer are we to a deal?

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The Pac-12 Network is still negotiating for carriage with DirecTV, but it looks like they will have to make sacrifices to AT&T, like the very idea of being wholly independent.

Jon Wilner has the full story. Here are the bullet points.

  • AT&T wants equity in the Pac-12 Network. They don’t plan on buying it. It’ll be part of the deal for DirecTV carriage. The Pac-12 has been 100% its own since its inception, not partnering with any major TV company like ESPN or FOX. That would change if there were to be a deal.
  • The networks would have to lower the terms of existing carriage deals with partners like Comcast and DISH, lowering subscription prices to the network.
  • The DirecTV carriage agreement would project to about $2 million per school per year. Currently the Pac-12 cashes out about $1 million a year to each university, although you figure that number will dip considerably with lower subscription prices.
  • Also, as Matt Sarzyniak points out, Dish currently holds exclusive sponsorship rights for the Pac-12. You have to figure that’s a particular bargaining point for DirecTV, who competes directly with DISH for satellite subscribers (AT&T is also the preferred wireless partner of the Pac-12).

It’s quite clear that for the Pac-12 Network to be as successful as its SEC and Big Ten contemporaries, they will need DirecTV carriage—it’s the national carrier for most sports subscribers and the only way for the network (and the conference by extension) to gain similar national visibility.