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(Courtesy photo) Mike Yam and Ashley Adamson on the set of the Pac-12 Networks' new studio.
Pierce: Pac-12 vs. DirecTV feud still has no winner
Sports on TV » But don’t be smug, Dish subscribers — you might be losing FS1.

By Scott D. Pierce

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Aug 26 2014 11:14 am • Last Updated Aug 26 2014 10:19 pm

In Week 1 of the 2014 college football season, it will be easier to find the Utah State game on TV than it will be to find the Utah game.

Who would’ve thought that would ever happen?

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That’s because USU is playing Tennesee (Sunday. 5 p.m.) on the new SEC Network. Which is in 90 million homes.

The Utah-Idaho State game (Thursday, 5:30 p.m.) is on the Pac-12 Network, which is available in at least a third fewer homes (We don’t have any firm distribution numbers). A big chunk of that difference comes because the SEC Network signed a deal with DirecTV. As P12N enters its third season, there’s still no such deal in sight. Before Dish subscribers get smug, Dish is in a dispute that could take Fox Sports 1 off before the weekend. Utah-Oregon State is scheduled on FS1 on Oct. 16 (with other games pending); BYU-Texas is on FS1 on Sept. 6.

Here’s P12N’s latest inflamatory statement about the DirecTV situation:

"DirecTV is treating you unfairly. More than 60 TV providers carry Pac-12 Networks, and we’ve offered DIRECTV the same fair deal. But DIRECTV continues to ignore their customers and Pac-12 fans. They said ‘yes’ to the SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and dozens of other sports networks and ‘no’ to Pac-12 Networks. They have offered up many excuses, but the reality is that they are depriving so many customers of great content."

As a negotiating ploy, that has clearly failed. Maybe it reflects frustration, but if so it’s not particularly professional.

Most likely, these statements are designed to speak to angry fans, not to DirecTV, which stopped listening to such public outbursts long ago.

DirecTV has clearly weathered all efforts by P12N to foment some sort of boycott. And it strikes a more conciliatory if decidedly condescending tone toward the Pac-12, maintaining it is "open to exploring any options to provide Pac-12 Network that offer the right value to all of our customers, whether they are Pac-12 fans or not."

That’s a nod to the obvious — the cost of any channel DirecTV adds is passed on to its subscribers.

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After pointing out that "dozens of the best Pac-12 football" are available on channels DirecTV does carry — ABC, Fox, NBC, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and more — the satellite giant answers the question "a few fans have asked" about why it picked up the SEC Network and not P12N.

"We were able to forge a sensible compromise with SEC Network owner ESPN that represents a good value to the people living inside the 11 states with SEC schools, as well as alumni around the nation. We remain in contact with the Pac-12 Conference about doing the same for its fans inside of the core six states and other supporters nationwide, and are open to exploring any options that offer similarly strong value."

In other words, P12N is going to have to bend on its demand that it be paid the same amount for every subscriber in every state.

That’s what the SEC Network did. It charges one price for subscribers in the 11 states that comprise the league’s footprint and a lower price for those in the other 39 states

So … it will be as easy to find Utah on TV on Thursday night as it will be to find Weber State. Because the Wildcats play at Arizona State, and that game is also on P12N.

Oh, and BYU-Connecticut is on ESPN (Friday, 5 p.m.) in almost 100 million homes.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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