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UA Athletics- Wildcats on television

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Greg Byrne

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2012 10:20 am

There is no question there is consternation among some UA fans regarding the broadcast of our games. They can’t get the games and want to know why not. They want to know when they’ll get it on their system. Those who have it want to know why it appears it may cost a bit more. Some of this is due to ongoing negotiations with various carriers (satellite giant DirecTV, chiefly), but some of this is because of our history of providing televised games.

The UA was somewhat of a pioneer out west in what’s called “institutional” television, largely because of its relative geographical isolation and the fact Tucson had a solid and interested TV market. In the early 1970s UA established a deal with local over-the-air Channel 11 (KZAZ-TV) to show delayed telecasts of football and basketball games. Considerable Wildcat fever was born. Over the years, numerous personalities helped bring UA games into living rooms, and eventually many or most were shown live. The partners and carriers changed over time, but the fact UA games were aired did not. People came to expect it.

There were bumps in the road. When we switched from over-the-air TV to a cable partner a decade ago, the roof caved in for fans who didn’t have cable TV. Soon that changed as cable/satellite service expanded to more and more homes.

The old days are gone. When the Pac-12 signed a major broadcast agreement with ESPN and FOX in May 2011 – and retained some of the inventory (games) for its own Pac-12 Network announced in July 2011 – the ability for schools to broker their own local or regional television deals ended. We no longer can arrange to produce games for television. (Even last year in-house partner IMG produced games to get UA on local over-the-air stations or basic cable partners.)

Not long after that, in November the league “aggregated” audio-visual and multi-media rights to bond together the website efforts of the 12 schools. This impacted live streaming of games by schools; they can’t. The digital end of Pac-12 Networks is still in its infancy but it will bring change, too.

What this new world means for the future depends in some cases on the eventual strength of the Pac-12 Network -- and just weeks after its launch is not a fair period to gauge. We want you to see Arizona teams compete on television and the new network will carry hundreds of our events in the next decade – those not selected for the league-partner broadcasts by ABC/ESPN and FOX/FX, or road games under other leagues’ TV deals. Stay tuned.

Even if you get Pac-12 Networks, again there are some issues as to which games will be shown in your area. Pac-12 Networks has seven channels – the national (P12N) and six regionals covering Arizona (P12A), the Bay Area (P12B), Utah and Colorado (Mountain – P12M), Los Angeles (P12L), Washington (P12W) and Oregon (P12O), to use the four-digit abbreviations. Most areas have high-definition versions of the same feed.

DISH just announced last week it would be carrying all seven channels. Until all carriers move in that direction most customers will have their area game or games. (Most of what you see on your Pac-12 channel is the “national” P12N feed, until the actual games are being played. If there are competing games, the network defaults to the regional game.)

Finally, we have had a number of fans say that we need to come to an agreement with the remaining large distributors right now. The Pac-12 is doing their best to negotiate a fair deal. The value of the deal is critical as we move forward to find ways for us to improve our facilities while trying to keep our season ticket prices as affordable as possible. The better value we have with the Pac-12 Network the better value we have in our pricing models.

If you are a DISH customer, make sure to confirm you have the appropriate subscription package to ensure you’re able to watch our games. It varies by market. And if you’re a DirecTV customer, please join other Pac-12 fans in a Twitter rally tomorrow at 10 a.m. Send a tweet to @DirecTV or give them a call at 1-888-777-2454 and let them know #IWantPac12Networks.

FOOTBALL OFF TO A GREAT START

How fun was this past Saturday’s football game against Oklahoma State? The atmosphere inside Arizona Stadium was electric all night long as the team put 59 points against (what was then) the No. 16 team in the nation. Thank you to all to all of those who were in attendance and helped provide a home field advantage. Now the team is ranked in the Top 25 in both polls! I know there are some out there sitting on the fence and taking a wait-and-see approach with the program. I hope you like what you see so far and it inspires you to come out to some games and support these young men. Please watch the captivating videos below to get a feel for the sights and sounds (including parts of Coach Rodriguez’s pregame and postgame speeches) from this memorable night.

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