New Pac-12 Networks President "Hopeful" He Can Renew Carriage Talks With DirecTV
New Pac-12 Networks President Mark Shuken, whose conference net has long been without carriage on DirecTV, "seemed hopeful that his established relationships and understanding of the satellite provider’s business could serve as the foundation for renewed talks," according to Alex Silverman of CABLEFAX. Shuken, who had a previous stint with DirecTV, said, "To me, there’s a benefit there in that I understand what DirecTV's overall objectives are, economically and serving their customers. So, I hope that will help in the dialogue." He added, "DirecTV has openly and clearly positioned themselves as the place for sports fans. Given that, one would assume that with the right conversation and the right business relationship, both parties will be served well -- all parties: the fans, the alums, the member universities and DirecTV subscribers -- by us getting something done." Shuken "pointed to his track record of successful carriage deals" prior to the Dodgers RSN launch while he was with Time Warner Cable. Silverman notes there is "more to Shuken’s new job than working out a deal with DirecTV." Shuken said growing the nets economically is "one of the key objectives of my mandate." Silverman also notes Shuken is "tasked with positioning the conference for upcoming rights negotiations." The Pac-12's deal for top games with ESPN and Fox expires in '24, "leaving Shuken a multiyear window to execute his strategy" (CABLEFAX.com, 8/15).
TIME TO WORK HIS MAGIC: VARIETY's Brian Steinberg noted with the Pac-12's big media deal not up until '24, that "gives Shuken some time to focus not only on beefing up advertising and sponsorship revenue, but also to explore digital distribution." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "We are dipping our toe in the water, delivering content on [Twitter] and with Facebook Live. I think you will see us do more of that with some of the new companies that are going to make more of a priority around live video." Shuken said that he "sees an opportunity to engage alumni and work fan bases to create communities around various sports" (VARIETY.com, 8/14).