Larry Scott’s bark may be worse than his plight.
Today, DirecTV subscribers are offered free access to a new channel called DogTV. It’s a 24/7 spot on the menu designed to be watched – wait for it – only by your domesticated canines.
In the meantime, DirecTV subscribers are on a choke chain for the Pac-12 Network, that 24/7 channel designed to be watched by humans who are curious observers of Bruins, Ducks, Cougars, Bears, Wildcats, Huskies and an occasional wandering Buffalo.
In this dog-eat-dog world, it’s Pac-12 commissioner Scott who has gone from “give it some time” mode into full pit-bull battle regalia as his conference’s network reaches Year 2 of existence still without complete acceptance by all the major dish, cable and teleco carriers.
“I urge our fans that are intent on not missing their team’s games this fall to drop DirecTV and switch to one of the many providers that have it,” Scott told a group of reporters last Friday during the annual conference football dog-and-pony show in Culver City. “All of our coaches and athletic directors that previously had DirecTV have now switched to a provider that has it and they are urging their fans to do the same.”
And the urgency in the leader of this Pac-12 pack isn’t to be taken lightly.
The conference website has posted video with both USC’s Pat Haden and UCLA’s Dan Guerrero pitching, more than bitching, about where to find the channel.
“For USC fans, if you don’t have the Pac-12 Network, — like last year, you would have missed three of our (football) games,” Haden says. “I’ve switched from DirecTV to Time Warner Cable and I’m incredibly happy.”
We’re truly happy that they’re all happy, team players that they’ve all become, a full year after Cal AD Sandy Barbour went full-on video with her decision to rip out DirecTV from her living room.
But in this case, could Scott be barking up the wrong tree here?
As a DirecTV customer for the last half-dozen years – a switch necessitated after continual weariness of the constant riffs Time Warner Cable had (and continues to have) with a variety of channels it has carried over the years – I’m really not going anywhere.
“When it comes to sports, there’s just no competition,” it says right there on the DirecTV home website.
There’s the scoreboard access from the remote that’s become second nature on checking scores of other games. There’s the SportsMix channel to see eight channels at once – hey, Chris Rose on both the NFL Network and the MLB Network right next to each other. There’s the NFL Sunday Ticket – enough said. Now, there’s discount offers now to bundle DirecTV with other phone and internet services.
What there isn’t – the Pac-12 Network – I seemed to survive just fine without. If I don’t see UCLA’s home opener against Nevada on Aug. 31 on the Pac-12 Net, I think I’ll be more than OK.
Don’t get the signals crossed here. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t like to see it. I’m just not that motivated, compelled – dare we say, urged – to be baited into making another switch that, somewhere down the road, could be resolved and all of this animosity would be put aside.
There are a few things I’m not quite getting here:
If this Pac-12 Network is so innovative, why can’t it be offered as an Internet-access only venture for those willing to buy it on demand or with a season pass? Isn’t that how most of the college kids are consuming their TV programming these days anyway?
And if the Pac-12 Net just wants equal treatment as any other channel, why does Scott insist DirecTV put it on a basic tier — where only ESPN, the MLB Network, NBA Network, NHL Network and NFL Network currently sit, while the rest of them are on the sports channel tier?
DirecTV will stick to its mantra of saying that the company “wants to make Pac-12 Network available to the fans who want it, but to do that, Pac 12 either needs to agree to a price to make it affordable for all of our customers, as we’ve offered and done with dozens of other sports networks, or allow Pac 12 fans to buy the network separately or purchase individual games on demand. Unfortunately, Pac 12 has refused all of these options. Regardless, we stand ready to agree to add the network if they propose a deal that’s fair.”
That’s the statement right there on the website.
The Pac-12 Net will come back with the proposal that it can’t give DirecTV something different it has already sold to Dish Network, TWC, etc. Because . . . ?
At an estimated cost of 80 cents a subscriber per month – and going only to 26 million homes – the Pac-12 Network is more on par in price with the NFL Network (84 cents, in 72 million homes), but more than two-and-a-half times more of what we’re paying for the Big Ten Network (36 cents, in 50 million homes).
The new Fox Sports 1 channel will likely seek 90 cents a subscriber per month, and so far, DirecTV is one of several who have not got on board with that either.
The latest news this morning that DirecTV, with a reported 30 million subscribers worldwide, lost 84,000 U.S. customers in the second fiscal quarter due to competition from Comcast, AT&T and Verizon has to be another wakeup call for the company as a more public campaign by the Pac-12 Network presses on. A year ago in this period, DirecTV lost 52,000 customers.
Still, DirecTV reported to its shareholders Thursday that it earned $7.7 billion in Q2, up 6 percent.
Chasing our tail back to this DogTV, over on Channel 354: DirecTV will be offering it up at $4.99 a month after the first two free weeks. Too bad that’s not even an option with the Pac-12 Network as well.
While not taking any official position, the American Veterinary Medical Association has gone on record as saying any relaxation and stimulation for pets is good. But it doubted that all dogs will take to this new channel.
“It could work for some dogs,” a spokesman for the AVMA told Reuters news, “and it might not interest others.”
Doggone it, the same could be said for the Pac-12 Network.