Many USC football fans were disappointed Saturday, as stalled negotiations between Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV prevented Saturday’s football game against California was not broadcast on the satellite service provider.
Pac-12 Networks rejected two of DirecTV’s offers, making DirecTV the largest national provider that has not yet added the channels.
“This means Pac-12 fans who subscribe to DirecTV are in jeopardy of missing all 35 football games scheduled for broadcast on Pac-12 Networks, beginning Thursday night,” said Pac-12 Networks in an open letter to fans.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Saturday that the network’s proposal is fair and should be acceptable since it is comparable to the deal reached with some of DirecTV’s competitors.
“We’ve offered them a similar deal to what DISH has done and what the cable operators have done so that’s why we know it is something they can do,” Scott said. “We also know it’s fair to other deals that they have.”
DirecTV is attempting to remedy the problem by either creating a stand-alone channel for willing subscribers or establishing a system in which viewers can purchase future games on demand.
In a statement released Friday, DirecTV said Pac-12 Networks was being uncooperative, claiming that the network had rejected its offers without consideration because Pac-12 Networks wants all DirecTV customers to pay for the channel regardless if they are football fans or not.
Steve Ross, a professor of history who specializes in the role of sports in popular culture, said he thinks that the viewers and fans are of little concern to the networks.
“Everybody’s being greedy, and the last people who are being taken into consideration are the fans,” Ross said. “Pac-12 is being incredibly greedy with this new contract, and greedy with the idea that they are going to sell the rights to the highest bidder no matter what.”
Ross also said the debacle could mean less support, less involvement and fewer donations from USC fans.
“If you lose 10 percent of your fan base, that’s 10 percent of sales, 10 percent of involvement in the program,” Ross said. “I believe that alumni donations go up during the years that the football program wins and people are paying attention.”
Max Susman, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, said he had to listen to Saturday’s game against Cal on the radio when he was unable to attend.
“When I found out I couldn’t find the game on USC’s cable service I was really upset,” Susman said. “I ended up listening to it on the radio. Isn’t this the 21st century?”
Some students said the standstill affected their families’ ability to keep up with the game.
“My parents made me give them play-by-play updates of what was going on in the Cal game since they couldn’t watch the game on TV,” said Mandy Raeder, a sophomore majoring in accounting.
Though the lack of agreement between Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV is causing a stir among fans, Professor Daniel Durbin, director of the Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society, is anticipating a settlement soon.
“I really doubt that this will go too long-term,” Durbin said. “Eventually they are going to have to work something out. The Pac-12 has to be able to get onto DirecTV, and they are on the weaker side of the negotiations.”
Scott said fans should continue pressuring DirecTV to add Pac-12 Networks to their lineup.
“Unfortunately, the frustration of fans needs to keep being manifested to DirecTV and hopefully they listen better because they do pride themselves on catering to the sports broadcasts,” Scott said. “Right now, I feel like they are betraying that promise to consumers, at least our fans — USC fans in this case — so we hope that changes.”
Joey Kaufman contributed to this report.