DirecTV is now testing high-definition and standard-definition signals for the Pac-12 Network on channel 612 in what appears to be a preparation for a long-anticipated launch of the regional sports network.
As first reported by TV Predictions, the tests were described on the forums of DBSTalk.com, a massaging platform reportedly used by numerous DirecTV employees.
This comes after the Pac-12 Network issued a statement earlier this week saying that it's hopeful about getting carriage on DirecTV in time for the kickoff of the Pac-12 college football season on Sept. 3.
"We know that DirecTV subscribers have been frustrated not having access to Pac-12 Networks," the network said. "Our biggest partner, AT&T, recently acquired DirecTV and we are working hard on strengthening and expanding our partnership to include carriage of Pac-12 Networks on DirecTV. With football season quickly approaching, we want to make sure Pac-12 Networks are available to fans on DirecTV in time for our opening games on September 3."
DirecTV representatives did not immediately return requests for comment on the topic.
The failure of the Pac-12 Network to reach an agreement with a pay-TV operator touting more than 20 million subscribers has been one of the bigger stories in the realm of regional sports networks (RSN). Launched in September 2012, the Pac-12 network remains owned and operated by the Pac-12 collegiate athletic conference -- a management strategy in contrast to similarly focused RSNs like the University of Texas-themed Longhorn Network, which is co-owned and operated by Disney/ESPN.
The leverage ESPN provides the Longhorn Network in obtaining carriage agreements is one reason why DirecTV subscribers in big Pac-12 TV markets including Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area can't see USC, UCLA, Stanford and California games on the Pac-12 Network, but do have access to Texas games on Longhorn.
DirecTV executives have quietly said they're reluctant to do a deal with the Pac-12 Network, since the conference also negotiates carriage deals for its biggest games on national networks like ESPN and Fox Sports 1.
With AT&T now having closed its acquisition of DirecTV -- and U-verse long serving as a technology and marketing partner to the Pac-12 conference -- it's likely that a Pac-12 Network licensing deal on DirecTV will finally get done.
Pac-12 chief still 'optimistic' AT&T will solve its DirecTV problem, but has no idea when
Pac-12 Network 'interested' in domestic OTT, but not anytime soon
Longhorn Network launches on DirecTV Wednesday