Mark Shuken is about to take over as president of the Pac-12 Networks and he’s coming into his new job knowing there’s a big elephant in the room, no agreement with DirecTV. But Shuken isn’t running away from the problem, he’s talking upfront about the issue that has kept the two sides apart for five years.
Shuken has plenty of experience working in pay TV having been employed at the aforementioned DirecTV (its Root Sports networks), Time Warner and Fox Sports Net. He’s also worked out deals with pay TV distributors on behalf of the sports networks.
Shuken told the Salt Lake Tribune that based on his experience at DirecTV, the satellite provider should be open to bringing Pac-12 Networks on board:
“One of the things that I know about DirecTV,” he said, “is that they position themselves openly and consistently as the leader in sports. … Clearly their positioning suggests that they should be carrying the Pac-12 Networks.”
But Shuken has been on the other side of the DirecTV coin as well having been the senior vice president of Spectrum SportsNet LA, the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And that has never been carried by DirecTV just like Pac-12 Networks.
But now with the situation at hand as he starts his job with Pac-12 Networks on September 5, Shuken is optimistic that he can open the door to possibly getting the channels carried despite the past history:
“…I look forward to learning how we can connect with them because, again, their customers are expecting the best in sports content. And right now, they don’t have it in the form of the Pac-12 Networks.”
The two sides haven’t budged on their arguments. Pac-12 Networks is holding steady on its subscriber fee. DirecTV says it wants to keep programming costs down and maintains that Pac-12 Networks are too expensive.
Still, Shuken hopes that the two sides will be able to hash out an agreement:
“Usually, these things are a function of timing as well as economics. And hopefully we can get past the challenge with them.”
So maybe there’s a sliver of hope as slight as it is in this dispute. Even so, the disagreement is still in place and just when it will end is anyone’s guess. DirecTV doesn’t seem to be in any rush to end this and both sides need to sit at the table before any deal can get done.