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Will the DirecTV, AT&T merger help the Pac-12 Network?

The merger is looking more and more optimistic... So, if it happens, will America's (formerly) 2nd place TV provider finally carry the Pac-12 Network?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As the famous phrase goes: When one multi-bazillion dollar television and entertainment mega-merger gets struck down by government and public pressure, another one is close behind. My parents used to say that all the time when I was a child.

I never fully understood what they meant by that until right this moment.

The huge merger between Comcast and Time Warner was officially declared dead on April 24th. Now, another huge merger is right around the corner as AT&T's buy out of DirecTV is coming to the end of it's governmental regulatory process. According to the LA Times, both parties are optimistic that the deal will be signed and sealed by the end of June.

For the most part, this isn't a gigantic deal for the average person. Unlike the Comcast and Time Warner merger, where cable companies have exclusive rights to cities and areas to provide TV and internet, DirecTV and AT&T are national companies. While some may live in an area where Time Warner is your only viable provider for internet or cable, and able to do pretty much do whatever they want, DirecTV and AT&T face stiff competition from other national companies (namely Dish Network and Verizon, respectively).

Where this may become a gigantic deal, for us specifically, is when it comes to the carriage of the Pac-12 Network. Since the launch of the networks in 2012, the fact that you can't find the Networks on the nation's largest satellite provider has been a major black mark. Pac-12 media guru Jon Wilner projected that the conference is losing out on $6.4 million per year, per school by not being able to come to a deal with DirecTV.

AT&T, however, has been a good partner for the conference since they signed on in 2013. Not only did they agree to carry the networks on their U-Verse TV service, they also agreed to (as Wilner referred to it) "a comprehensive marketing/infrastructure" deal with the conference, which includes AT&T being the "exclusive wireless provider for Pac-12 athletic venues."

We don't know the terms of the AT&T deal, but it seems that, with both DirecTV and the Pac-12 unwilling to bend, this may be the best case scenario for the conference.If they can get the job done, the question then becomes: When will they appear? Conference representatives, including Bill Moos, have said that even with a merger, the networks are unlikely to appear in 2015.

So, long term, the new cell phone/satellite company is good news for Pac-12 fans. But, while we're playing the waiting game, Jon Wilner checked in one more time today with an important reminder:

But I’ll say the same thing about the AT&T-DTV deal that I did during the conference realignment craze earlier in the decade: Despite the optimism, it’s never done until it’s done.


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