Pac-12-DirecTV Standoff: Bad Games for a Fee?

Let’s get the confession out of the way: I’m a UCLA grad who likes watching UCLA football.

OK, that’s not quite right. I watch UCLA football because I’ve been doing it for a really long time. Often it’s just a source of anger and frustration. But enough about me.

The Pac-12 network wants me to be very upset about its standoff with DirecTV, which happens to be my cable/satellite provider. They want me to be so upset that I bitch and threaten to change my service because I won’t be able to watch the UCLA-Cal game this weekend.

Frankly, I would like the option of watching the game, although I can certainly think of better things to do with those four hours.

But I also recognize that nobody but UCLA and Cal fans — and frankly, not even a lot of them — have any reason to care about this game. I’m also mildly perturbed about the expansion of dedicated sports networks seeking to leverage the ardor of fans, especially when there will be at least six months out of the year — those not overlapping with football and basketball — when there will be absolutely nothing on the Pac-12 network that I give a rat’s ass about watching.

The only really fair way to settle this would be to make games available on a pay-to-view basis, but of course that doesn’t offer the steady stream of income as a dedicated channel. And the new Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott, has been very savvy about leveraging the crush of TV sports deals in his efforts to maximize revenue for the conference.

What he can’t do is make UCLA-Cal anything but a mediocre football game, between two so-so teams.

So even though I ostensibly have a dog in this fight, I’m pretty content to watch this little game between the Pac-12 and DirecTV play out from the sidelines.


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