Aug. 30, 2012
SEATTLE -Husky football is helping usher in a new era for the Pac-12 Conference this weekend.
Washington's opener Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. against San Diego State at CenturyLink Field is being televised live nationally by the new Pac-12 Networks. The game is part of an opening football weekend for the two-week-old network that was to begin Thursday with two games, at Utah and at Arizona State.
Friday, the league's new channel will broadcast Stanford's opener. Then Saturday, California's and Washington's.
Pac-12 Networks began programming on Aug. 15 and has already televised UW's men's soccer opener against Gonzaga, among other events. But Saturday's Huskies-Aztecs game is part of the beginning for the new network's signature series.
Pac-12 Networks will televise live 15 non-conference games and 20 league games this season.
From a huge boost in revenues to recruiting to reach not just nationally but globally, Pac-12 Networks is a game-changer even before the first kickoff.
"Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12 Enterprises have the ability to transform our conference nationally," O.D. Vincent, UW's senior associate athletic director, said Wednesday.
"We are extremely excited to have our first football game this season on the opening weekend of football on Pac-12 Networks."
Pac-12 Networks is the name for the league's national network plus the six regional networks serving member schools and their regional fan bases: Pac-12 Los Angeles; Pac-12 Washington; Pac-12 Oregon;, Pac-12 Bay Area; Pac-12 Arizona; and Pac-12 Mountain. At the time of its launch two weeks ago, Pac-12 Networks was available in at least 48 million homes nationwide.
The conference has agreements with more than 30 cable distributors across the country. Those include Comcast in Western Washington, plus Time Warner Cable and Cox.
Customers who have Pac-12 Networks in their cable-television packages also have the option of getting the new Pac-12 Digital Network on their computers, mobile devices and tablets later this season through what the conference is calling TV Everywhere. That would enable mobile-device viewing of all Pac-12 Networks TV programming, including live football game telecasts.
But if your television provider doesn't carry Pac-12 Networks, you cannot get digital coverage of the league's new programming.
Customers of DirecTV and the Dish Network are shut out, so far. Thursday, the first day of the college football season, began with the Pac-12 still at an impasse in what it called "around the clock" talks with DirecTV, America's second-largest pay-TV provider as of last year, to get an agreement to carry Pac-12 Networks. As of January DirecTV had 19.9 million subscribers nationwide, about five million more than Dish.
There are many internet drives going to let DirecTV in particular know of subscribers' wishes for Pac-12 football. The Twitter hashtag #IWantPac12Networks is one way. Another is by visiting to this address: http://support.directv.com/app/ask.
Wednesday night, the conference posted what it called an "open letter" to DirecTV subscribers concerning Pac-12 football coverage.
"We have worked around the clock to make sure that doesn't happen, but with only a few hours remaining before the kickoff of the season, we're writing to inform our fans that we do not have a distribution agreement with DirecTV," the Pac-12's letter stated.
"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."
The league went on to advise DirecTV subscribers: "If you're one of the fans who won't be satisfied without Pac-12 football, or our more than 135 men's basketball games and hundreds of other live events, we recommend finding Pac-12 Networks with another television provider."
For now, the game with San Diego State is UW's only one on the initial football schedule for Pac-12 Networks, though there is the potential for more. The Sept. 8 game at LSU is a national telecast on ESPN. Sept. 15's home game with Portland State will be on FX and the Sept. 27 game at CenturyLink against Stanford will be on ESPN.
The two other known TV games are at Cal on Nov. 2 (ESPN2) and Nov. 23's Apple Cup at Washington State (FX or FOX). All other television arrangements will be determined within two weeks of game dates.