New Pac-12 Network president hints at renewed DirecTV talks

With AT&T carrying the RSN on U-verse, there was hope two years ago that the impasse would finally be transgressed. 

About to enter its fifth college football season with no carriage deal with the second biggest pay-TV platform in the U.S., the Pac-12 Network had seemingly given up on negotiating with DirecTV.

But new Mark Shuken, new president of the regional sports network, raised at least some hopes that both sides might return to the bargaining table.

“One of the things that I know about DirecTV,” Shuken told the Salt Lake Tribune, “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.”

Predating AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV in 2015, executives for the satellite TV company have complained that too many of the Pac-12 Network’s marquee football and basketball games are on national networks. 

With AT&T carrying the RSN on U-verse, there was hope two years ago that the impasse would finally be transgressed. 

RELATED: Pac-12 Net deal with DirecTV not even a ‘reasonable possibility’ as RSN begins fifth year without carriage agreement

But the light of hope went out last September, when entering the 2016 college football season, San Jose Mercury News columnist Jon Wilner—the reporter tracking the carriage impasse most closely—wrote, “Nobody expects a deal and many don’t even consider it a reasonable possibility.”

For his part, Shukin—whose resume includes Time Warner Cable Sports and Liberty Media—seems interested in at least restarting dialog with AT&T.

“I have not had any personal conversations with anybody there yet,” said Shuken, who takes over the RSN on Sept. 5. “But 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.”

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