BURBANK, California -- Everyone knows the biggest problem plaguing the Pac-12 Networks: DirecTV. The biggest provider in America doesn't carry the conference's channels, and that's an issue. The news that AT&T is taking over DirecTV gave hope for a renewed negotiation push.
Lydia Murphy-Stephans, the president of the Pac-12 Networks, took the stage on media day and addressed the situation. "As you know, the acquisition of DirecTV by our partner AT&T was finalized last week," said Murphy-Stephans. "With the football season right around the corner, we're looking forward to strengthening and expanding our partnership so that Pac-12 fans don't miss any of what's bound to be a thrilling football season." And she left it at that.
It's obvious the Pac-12 is playing this close to the vest. Going public with any type of negotiation strategy is very clearly a bad business decision. The Pac-12 wants DirecTV to take the same deal they have with every other provider, including AT&T. They're hoping that this merger will help their case. "Even though we've enjoyed steady growth and have more than 70 providers domestically," explained Murphy-Stephans, "we will not be satisfied until we have complete distribution for our fans."
But beyond the DirecTV issue, Murphy-Stephans brought a sense of excitement for her network. Viewership is up 43% over the last year and viewer engagement (whatever that is) is up a whopping 600%. With a number like 600, you can't help but be excited.
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The conference commissioner started media days by talking about (among other things) officiating, Pac-12 Networks and conference expansion.
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She went on to go over this season's slate of shows, which is similar to the ones they had last season. The shows include the flagship Pac-12 Sports Report, Inside Pac-12 Football, and the return of The Drive, featuring OSU and Utah. But there will also be a new show on Saturday nights. "We'll also premier a new show, Pac-12 Final Score, hosted by Mike Yam," Murphy-Stephans explained. "Final Score will feature highlights and stories from college football action across the country."
One thing I do want to point out that Murphy-Stephans mentioned is the level of student involvement in Pac-12 Network broadcasts.
"Last year more than 2,000 production jobs were filled by students who were trained and paid for their contributions," she said. "In fact, we hire at least one student to work every live event we produce, including this one." For 2 years in college, I was one of those students. I worked a camera at nearly every single broadcast from the WSU campus (And one Spring Game in Spokane!). It was a tremendous experience allowing me to learn a ton, and it was a huge resume (and bank account) boost too. If you're in college, I emplore you seek it out. It's a great experience.
I know what you're thinking: But what about DirecTV? We're just going to have to wait and see. Until then, maybe football (that some of you can't watch) will distract us.
You can see the full presentation from Lydia Murphy-Stephans on the Pac-12 website here.