USC and UCLA are each scheduled to make an appearance on the Pac-12 Networks during the first four weeks of the upcoming football season. But will Los Angeles-area residents be able to watch those games from the comfort of their living rooms or local watering holes?
It depends on which cable company you subscribe to.
The Pac-12 Networks, which launch Aug. 15, currently have carriage agreements with Time Warner, Comcast, Cox and Bright House. The conference does not have deals in place with DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T, Charter, or Verizon, among others.
Whether those agreements are reached in time for the Aug. 30 start of the season remains to be seen.
Asked Thursday what options a DirecTV subscriber would have come September if a deal isn't struck, Gary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, said:
"Your options for watching the games if you don't have Pac-12 Networks are to become a customer of one of the affiliates that do. We're working hard on new affiliate agreements. We continue to work hard to make that happen."
Prolonged negotiations between new networks and cable and satellite providers are not atypical. The latter is required to pay subscriber fees to networks to carry their programming. Those per-subscriber, per-month fees can range from a few cents to more than $5 in the case of ESPN, according to industry estimates. Cable and satellite providers are reluctant to pay additional sub fees because those costs typically are passed on to their customers.
The Pac-12 is hoping public demand for its product will lead to more carriage agreements. The new networks, consisting of one national channel and six regional outlets, will televise 35 football games this season and hundreds of conference athletic events annually.
"What usually carries the day in those situations is great content," Stevenson said. "We feel that our content is compelling to consumers.
"I'd say we're optimistic; we feel good about our conversations. But those are questions you should ask them."
Initial attempts to reach DirecTV were unsuccessful. DirecTV CEO Michael White recently was quoted as saying: "We're not going to have seven channels — I can assure you of that."
Each provider will determine how many of the Pac-12 Networks it carries. Pac-12 Networks programming will be available on mobile devices, but only if you subscribe to a provider that has a carriage agreement with the conference.