Lamenting the fact that his athletic conference's regional sports network is about to kick off its third consecutive college football season without an affiliate deal with DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott directed some pointed criticism at the satellite company.
"We've been disappointed that DirecTV has been willing to negotiate with ESPN for the SEC Network but not Pac-12," Scott told the Los Angeles Times. "It is certainly not consistent with them saying they care about what the consumer wants."
Just several days earlier, DirecTV announced an affiliate deal with the SEC Network that will make it available in more than 90 million homes when it launches Aug. 14.
"It appears this is an example of DirecTV being willing only to deal with big conglomerates who have muscle and leverage beyond the interest of consumers," Scott added.
Distributed in about 60 million homes, primarily through deals with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T), the RSN is independently backed by the Pac-12 collegiate athletic conference, meaning the conference doesn't have to split its upside with a major media company.
It's debatable as to whether Scott is right, and a conglomerate partner would help with DirecTV negotiations. Pricing, for example, has reportedly been an issue for the Pac-12 Network.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the RSN came into the 2013 college football season with around 26 million subscribers, asking around 80 cents per pay-TV customer. The Fox-backed Big Ten Network has more than 50 million subscribers (out of a pay-TV subscriber reach close to 90 million), but with an average per-subscriber rate of only 36 cents.
For its part, the SEC Network demands around $1.40 per subscriber within the footprint of the Southeastern Conference. But as individuals close to the Pac-12 Network's negotiations tell FierceCable, the relatively nonchalant nature of Pac-12 football fans compared to the zealotry of SEC denizens renders the comparison a tough one for the West Coasters.
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