Pac-12 chief still 'optimistic' AT&T will solve its DirecTV problem, but has no idea when

The Pac-12 Network will enter its fourth year -- and fourth college football season -- of operation without a lynchpin carriage deal on DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV).

Speaking at the Pac-12 athletic conference's annual pre-college football season media day at the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, Calif. late last week, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said he is "optimistic" that talks with DirecTV will resume soon regarding carriage of the conference's regional sports network.

AT&T (NYSE: T), which just closed its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV, has long been a Pac-12 sponsorship and technology partner, and it carries the Pac-12 Network on U-verse. At last year's Pac-12 media day, Scott said he hoped AT&T's takeover of DirecTV would result in a deal with the satellite company. 

However, last week, Scott said that AT&T's work with regulators to obtain approval for its purchase of DirecTV had stalled talks between DirecTV and the Pac-12.

"As a standalone, DirecTV was getting ready to be sold and was trying to keep its costs down with the [Los Angeles] Dodgers and the Pac-12 Networks," Scott told media members. "They weren't taking on any new stuff they didn't have to do."

The impasse between the Pac-12 Network and DirecTV has been a big story in a year in which regional sports networks (RSNs) built around college athletic conferences have proliferated. DirecTV's strong market position in the Western markets where Pac-12 member schools are located has made the satellite carrier essential to the Pac-12 Network, which only has 12 million subscribers.

According to recent reports, the Pac-12 Network is asking for 39 cents per subscriber, about the same money DirecTV is paying to carry the Big Ten Network. DirecTV, meanwhile, is paying roughly twice that amount for access to the SEC Network. 

DirecTV executives have said that most of the Pac-12's marquee games are on national networks, such as Fox Sports 1, and the RSN isn't worth the cost.

For more:
- read this Salt Lake City Tribune story
- read this Seattle Times story

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