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TV deal adds to conference’s reach but Pac-12 remains in stalemate with DirecTV

TV deal adds to conference’s reach but Pac-12 remains in stalemate with DirecTV
Coach Clay Helton and the USC Trojans open the 2016 season against defending national champion Alabama. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

There was a split decision for the Pac-12 Conference on Thursday regarding broadcasts of its networks in Southern California: Frontier is in, and DirecTV remains out.

A wider swath of the region will be able to watch the Pac-12 Networks after the conference announced it had reached a deal with Frontier to carry the stations.

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The arrangement will net the conference nearly 500,000 new subscribers, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told reporters at the conference's media days in Hollywood, though the conference has made no progress in its stalemate with DirecTV.

"Frontier is a major add for our Southern California fans," Scott said. "We will keep knocking on the door and pushing as hard as we can" with DirecTV.

The conference also hopes to reach a deal with Charter, the other remaining holdout among major carriers.

The Pac-12 has reached an agreement with Cox Communications to carry the flagship Pac-12 Network in addition to its regional networks in Orange County and Palos Verdes and throughout Arizona, giving fans better access to high-profile games.

"This is good news for fans," Scott said. "No matter where they live, they can watch their favorite football team play this season."

Scott also announced three social media initiatives that would increase access to conference games. The conference will stream at least 150 games involving the traditional Olympics sports on Twitter. On Facebook, the Pac-12 will provide behind-the-scenes images and game-day content related to its 35 football broadcasts on the Pac-12 Network. On YouTube, the conference will combine all its news feeds into one platform to provide easier access to fans.

Scott predictably also touted the strength of the Pac-12's football teams, saying he was "confident no other conference has as many good teams as the Pac-12." The commissioner cited the record 10 conference teams coming off bowl games and the dozen returning first-team all-conference selections as evidence of the Pac-12's prowess.

Scott called the Pac-12 teams' nonconference schedule the toughest in the nation, pointing to USC's opener against Alabama, UCLA's opener against Texas A&M and the fact that conference teams will play 18 nonconference games against opponents who appeared in bowls last season. Scott said tough scheduling could help the conference land a team in the four-team playoffs.

"We'll take on all comers," Scott said, "and if a team deserves to be in the playoffs, they will be."

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