UPDATED: 5 p.m. SATURDAY
Dish Network has reached an agreement to carry the Pac-12 Networks, it was announced early this morning, leaving DirecTV, Charter, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS as the other major cable and dish operators who have yet to work out a distribution deal.
The deal with Dish, which joins Time Warner, Cox, Comcast and Bright House as the major carriers for the Pac-12 Network, also gives it exclusive sponsorship on Pac-12 campuses. That means stadium signage and logo rights, which could be a perceived advantage over rival DirecTV when it comes to getting the word out about one product versus the other.
Dish customers will have the ability to watch Pac-12 football games today as a free preview. Those games include Sacramento State-Colorado (noon, Channel 445), Eastern Washington-Washington State (noon., Channel 446), Southern Utah-Cal (noon, Channel 413), Fresno State-oregon (3:30 p.m., Channel 413), Oklahoma State-Arizona (7:30 p.m., Channel 413) and Duke-Stanford (7:30 p.m., Channel 445).
Dish, with 14.1 million satellite customers, is the third-largest pay-TV provider in the country, behind Comcast (22.1 million) and DirecTV (19.9 million). Time Warner, which covers much of Southern California, has about 12.3 million. Comcast and Time Warner have seen the largest recent drops in customer subscribers, while almost everyone (except AT&T and Verizon) has posted losses (see story linked here).
Before today’s UCLA-Nebraska kickoff at the Rose Bowl, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said despite not having every major provider signed up to date, “but if you look at it, we’re three weeks into it and we have four out of the top five distributors … I think it’s on par, if not better than any other launch that’s taken place. It ranks up there with early success. But these things take time.”
Scott said that DirecTV has been “offered the same deal that Dish has been offered, so no doubt it’s a fair deal. Dish thought so, and 40 cable companies thought so, so I hope they listen to their customers the same way the others have.
“What I’ve seen written, is (DirecTV) questions how much their fans need it (or) want it. Is what’s on Fox, ESPN enough? Do they need to see all these games? I think they’ve been dismissive of the 20 conference games we have coming up … We’re going to have some big rivalry games. We think that’s a disconnect for them, at least what I hear from fans.
“We are realistic. … We have a lot of work to do. We won’t be satisfied until we have all five. That’s our goal.”
Next Saturday, UCLA’s game at the Rose Bowl against Houston is on the Pac-12 Network. USC’s home game against Cal on Sept. 22 is the Trojans’ first football game exclusively on the network.
Dish has put the Pac-12 channels on its America’s Top 120+ package and above for customers who live in the six states with a conference school. It’s available nationwide in the Multi-Sport Pack for $9 per month.
(Staff writer Steve Ramirez contributed to this report.)