After a summer of optimism following concerted talks between AT&T and the Pac-12 to allow DirecTV to finally pick up the Pac-12 Networks, we’re back to square one. Basically, it’s same as it ever was between DirecTV and the Pac-12. According to Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News, carriage talks between AT&T and the Pac-12 Conference have collapsed and it appears there won’t be an agreement between the two parties anytime soon.
Wilner said AT&T was seeking demands that would have changed the Pac-12’s business model for its networks and would have lowered subscriber fees from its other cable and satellite providers. According to Wilner, that would have cost the Pac-12 profitability and it was a price it was not willing to pay just to get DirecTV on board.
The proposal by AT&T, which took control of DirecTV this summer, is believed to have involved taking an equity stake in the networks, according to sources, and could have forced the Pac-12 Networks to redo their existing distribution deals (with Comcast, DISH, etc.) at a lower subscription rate.
The conference currently uses what’s called a Most Favored Nation agreement, which gives any partner access to the best subscription rates available.
In addition, the income from carriage on DirecTV would have been lower, initially, than previous reports ($2 million to $3 million per school per year), according to sources.
AT&T also wanted to expand its presence on campuses.
When AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV was approved by the Feds earlier this year, there was hope that the Pac-12 Networks going online with the satellite provider would be just a matter of time as they were already on with U-Verse and AT&T was a major corporate sponsor with the league.
A signal test last month on Channel 612 only increased the anticipation for subscribers who have not had Pac-12 Networks since they launched in 2012. However, as the college football season began without an agreement, there were rumblings that talks weren’t going so smoothly. And now this latest development leaves DirecTV without Pac-12 Networks into a fourth season.
There’s always the possibility of the two sides getting back to the negotiating table, but that seems to be a remote option for now. It’s frustrating for the 4 million DirecTV subscribers who live in the conference footprint, but either they’ll have to change their provider to watch Pac-12 sports or continue their extended waiting game. Either way, the entire conflict has gotten to the point where subscribers only want an agreement to get done and hope that it will happen sooner rather than later.