Pac-12 Network chief says talks with DirecTV are dead

Hopes have ended that AT&T's (NYSE: T) closure on its $49 billion DirecTV acquisition will spur a quick deal between the satellite TV operator and regional sports channel the Pac-12 Network.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said discussions between the college athletic conference and AT&T broke off last week amid what he called "unreasonable" demands.

"There's no discussions ongoing, so I'm not anticipating that we'll have a deal with them," Scott said. "I'm disappointed. We have a comprehensive partnership with AT&T, plus they're carrying [Pac-12 Networks on] U-verse. I was hopeful that a reasonable deal could be done. I'm certainly disappointed that wasn't possible."

He added: "When I teed up what it would have taken to do a deal and brought it back to our schools, they just weren't comfortable with it."

Reports recently surfaced that a deal between the regional sports network (RSN) and DirecTV was so close, the satellite operator was even testing video feeds for the channel. However, talks appear to have subsequently collapsed, with other reports surfacing that AT&T is seeking an ownership stake in the channel. 

AT&T has not yet responded to FierceCable's inquiry for comment.

The Pac-12 Network was independently launched by the Pac-12 Athletic Conference in September 2012. Controlling 1.2 million pay-TV subscriptions in the Southern California region alone, DirecTV is a key carriage source the RSN badly needs. But the channel is now into its third NCAA football season without a DirecTV deal. 

DirecTV insiders have told FierceCable that their issue with the RSN isn't so much price but the quality of the programming. They said most of the in-demand college football games shown on the channel are games featuring lower-tier teams, while highly viewed marquee match-ups are usually shown on national TV.

For example, Saturday's telecast of Stanford's upset of No. 6 USC was shown nationally on ABC.

Being an independent also doesn't help Pac-12 Network with leverage. For instance, The Longhorn Network -- a University of Texas-themed RSN backed by ESPN -- is carried by DirecTV in Pac-12 markets. 

For more:
- read this TV Predictions story
- read this Orange County Register story

Related articles:
DirecTV reportedly testing Pac-12 Network; 3-year-old carriage impasse could end by Sept. 3
Pac-12 Network 'interested' in domestic OTT, but not anytime soon
Pac-12 chief still 'optimistic' AT&T will solve its DirecTV problem, but has no idea when