The Rich Rodriguez era is in full swing after the Wildcats upset nationally ranked Oklahoma State and shutout South Carolina State 56-0 last Saturday to give Arizona its first 3-0 start since 2010.
Unfortunately for many Wildcats’ fans across the nation, the game wasn’t even aired on TV. The Wildcats will host Oregon State on Sept. 29, but many Arizona fans will be unable to watch.
The new Pac-12 Network and DirecTV are in a stalemate regarding contract negotiations, and DirecTV subscribers are getting caught in the middle.
“It’s pretty unfortunate,” undeclared UA junior Connor Worth said.
“I wish they could work it out. They need to put their customers first.
“The reality is the Pac-12 is a huge conference, and they [have] a lot of customers on the West Coast who want to watch Pac-12 sports.”
On August 15th, the Pac-12 Network looked to change the way in which college sports were viewed in the West.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and co. created a unique network model comprised of six regional networks: that reach in Los Angeles (USC & UCLA), Arizona (UA & ASU), the Bay Area (Cal & Stanford), Mountain (Mountain (Utah and, & Colorado)), Washington (UW & WSU), and Oregon (UO & OSU).
Unlike the other college conference networks like BTN (Big Ten Network), which partnered with Fox, and Mmtn. (now defunct), which partnered with CBS Sports, the Pac-12 Network created their network from scratch without partnering with any major media companies. Major service providers, such as Comcast Cable, Cox Cable, Time Warner Cable, and DISH Network have all agreed to multi- year contracts, which would allow their customers to watch Pac-12 sports, including from the more popular sports like basketball, and football, to the smaller sports like soccer, tennis and volleyball. The Pac-12 has yet to come to agreement terms with DirecTV, the nation’s leading satellite provider, with a contract that would satisfy both parties.
“If the Pac- 12 would allow us to make their network available only to those customers who want to pay for it, the channel would have already been on,” DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said.
“But, as it still stands, the price is too high to accept their demand to make it available to all customers, some of whom will have to take on this unnecessary cost for a channel they don’t want.”
Kirk Reynolds, vice president of Public Affairs at the Pac-12 Network, said he is striving to land a deal that would provide DirecTV customers with the ability to watch Pac-12 sports.
“We are certainly working on it,” Reynolds said. “Our goal is to get 100 percent distribution, and obviously that would include DirecTV.”
According to Reynolds, DISH and 40 other providers have agreed to a similar deal that DirecTV declined.
“They [DirecTV] offer more sports than anybody,” Reynolds said.
“For whatever reason, they have been pretty straightforward in their statements and have expressed no interest to make the same deal that the other providers have accepted.”
The conflict between the Pac-12 and DirecTV has impacted many bar and restaurant managers as they are forced to choose between NFL Sunday Ticket, which is available exclusively through DirecTV, and the Pac-12 Network, which is available through local cable providers. The Pac-12 has been the exclusive channel provider for two of Arizona’s three football games so far, plus the upcoming game against Oregon State.
Chris Sisneros, manager of Big Willy’s Restaurant and Sports Grill on 6th Street and Fremont Avenue was forced to get Cox Cable in addition to his DirecTV subscription so that he could show the Pac-12 network as well as keep DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.
“We’re paying two bills each month.” Sisneros said. “It’s an extra 400 dollars a month for one channel.”
Sisneros said he sees the additional monthly expenses affecting his business.
“I have to stay with DirecTV,” Sisneros said. “The only reason we are with DirecTV is for their football package. Otherwise, we would be with Cox.”
DirecTV’s slow response is reminiscent of its eventual deal with Big Ten Network, which took four years of negotiations before contracts were signed. Some Pac-12 fans are hopeful that the Pac-12 Network will agree to a deal in the near future, a fact that isn’t lost on Reynolds.
“We will continue to work with Pac-12 Network to resolve this for the benefit of both fans and non-fans alike,” Reynolds said.
“While our ultimate goal is full distribution, now that we have DISH, everyone has an option.”
Bars and restaurants that have DirecTV in Tucson
Chuy’s Mesquite Broiler
Legends Bar and Grill
Jimmy’s American Bistro
Redline Sports Grill
Big Willy’s Restaurant and Sports Grill
BZ’s Pizza Company