Marking a major strategy pivot for the four-year-old Pac-12 Networks, the regional sports channel has flipped its feeds on Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), putting its national channel on the No. 1 pay-TV service's basic tier.
The Pac-12 Networks' national feed will now be available on Comcast's basic tier. Local versions, like the Utah-and-Colorado-situated Pac-12 Mountain channel, will reside in the Sports Entertainment extra package, a $10-a-month add-on that also includes CBS Sports Network, ESPN Goal Line, Fox College Sports, NFL RedZone, Outside Television, Tennis Channel and beIN Sports.
The national feed will also be available in HD for the first time.
Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans said the switch — which will take effect July 21 — had been planned since the RSN launched back in September 2012.
Pac-12 Networks operates a national flagship channel that televises live sports events from across the 12-team Pac-12 collegiate athletic conference. It also has six regional channels that focus on specific regions.
Previously, a Seattle-residing fan of the University of Washington who subscribed to only Comcast's basic tier could see most major sporting events for their team on the regional channel. But they were out of luck if they wanted to watch, say, a football game featuring the rival Washington State Cougars vs. the USC Trojans. That is, unless they subscribed to the Sports Entertainment package.
Now, the situation has been reversed — which will favor bigger markets like Los Angeles, since games featuring USC and UCLA are often shown on both the national and regional feeds.
Of course, none of this solves a core issue for Pac-12 Networks, as it prepares to enter a fourth football season without carriage on No. 2 pay-TV operator DirecTV (NYSE: T).
DirecTV ends retrans blackout on Utah's KSL-TV, but talks break down with Pac-12 Network
DirecTV reportedly testing Pac-12 Network; 3-year-old carriage impasse could end by Sept. 3
Pac-12 chief still 'optimistic' AT&T will solve its DirecTV problem, but has no idea when