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Pac-12 Network on track to launch in more than 40 million homes

Pac-12 Network may be “most successful new cable launch in history.”

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Talks are ongoing, and the Pac-12 Network has ammunition for this fight. Those 35 exclusive football games will have satellite subscribers calling their providers if they can’t see them.

It’s a bit early to worry. It’s not unusual for TV deals like this to be made shortly before games start being played.

At a glance

About the Pac-12 Network

The new sports channel will be on basic cable for Utah’s Comcast subscribers when it launches on Aug. 15. The league is still negotiating with Dish, DirecTV and myriad other cable companies.

Utes go first

Utah will get the honor of playing host to the Pac-12 Network’s inaugural football game.

Utah’s season opener against Northern Colorado on Aug. 30 is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. The early start time will allow the network to pair the game with the Arizona State-Northern Arizona contest, scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m.

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Stevenson said he doesn’t expect "long, drawn-out" talks, which he characterized as "productive and positive."

Even if the Pac-12 Network doesn’t sign any new affiliates before the football season, the network will be available in more than 40 million homes. (The Mtn. launched in fewer than 1 million and peaked at about 11 million.)

"If we do a couple more agreements, which we’re confident we’ll do," Stevenson said, "we have the potential to be the most successful new cable launch in history."

Recruiting bonus

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham is enthusiastic about the new TV networks.

"It’s going to be a big plus for us in recruiting," he said. "It’s going to make the Pac-12 games accessible nationwide. And we anticipate a very positive impact."

No longer will Utah coaches have to explain why no one can see their games. They can tell recruits they’ll have a national audience.

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"Kids love to be on TV," Hill said.

And parents will know they can see their kids play.

"It’s more of a topic with parents than it is with players," Whittingham said.

While the new deal will be an improvement for football, it will be a quantum leap for Olympic sports.

"If you take a look at the number of exposures Olympic sports will get compared with what they got last year and then compared with every other conference in the country, it’s staggering," Stevenson said.

"Our volleyball teams are going to be on more than any other league in the country," Hill said. "That’s got to help with recruiting."

And the thought is that this will help years down the line.

"The younger kids will have the chance to watch you and learn about your program on TV," Whittingham said. "It’s good to have get a look at you."

Multiple channels

The Pac-12 Network is just one TV outlet for the league, which will also air football and basketball games on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox, FX and FSN/ROOT.

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Take it with you

If your cable company carries the Pac-12 Network, you’ll be able to watch the channel anytime, anywhere on your mobile device.

“Let’s say you’re traveling in Florida and you want to watch Utah play a football game,” said Gary Stevenson, pictured, chief executive of Pac-12 Media Enterprises. “You just put your authentication number in and you’ll be able to watch that game on your iPad while you’re sitting on the beach.”

If your cable or satellite company doesn’t carry the network, you cannot subscribe online only to the Pac-12 Network. That may come eventually, Stevenson said, but not this fall.

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

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