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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

August 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Pac-12 ramps up the campaign against DirecTV . . .

Frustrated at the lack of progress in the attempt to come to terms with DirecTV, the Pac-12 announced Monday an ad campaign intended to bring the carrier into the fold, nearly a year after the birth of Pac-12 Networks.

It’s the most organized salvo yet by the league against DirecTV, coming some 17 days after commissioner Larry Scott made the impasse a prominent part of a short state-of-the-conference address at the Pac-12 football media day in Los Angeles.

The league is calling the campaign “Compare,” and it focuses on what you get on DirecTV and what’s available on Pac-12 Networks. The ads will be featured on TV and radio outlets, plus print and digital formats in the league’s footprint.

There are ads tailored to each school, and in the case of Washington and Washington State, they play upon the mascots of the two schools, advising that you can learn plenty about Huskies, for instance, on DirecTV — Huskies of the sled-dog variety, while the ones who play on Montlake are on Pac-12 Networks.

“Huskies are large and powerful sled dogs,” says a woman’s voice in erudite, Discovery Channel fashion, as the TV ad begins with an image of a sled-dog team in the snow. Then a contrarian buzz interrupts, followed by a male voice saying, “These are the kinds of Huskies you’ll see on DirecTV. These (accompanied by an image of quarterback Keith Price calling signals) are the kind you’ll see on Pac-12 Networks. If you want every Washington football game, you don’t want DirecTV. Drop DirecTV and get Pac-12 Networks today.” Then a conference website is provided, listing carriers that have signed on for Pac-12 Networks.

The spots are similarly themed for the Cougars. A radio ad says, “It’s Pac-12 football season, and you can watch the Cougars on DirecTV (insert that contradictory buzz again), or on Pac-12 Networks. On DirecTV, you can watch Yukon and South American cougars. On Pac-12 Networks, you can find Cougars like QB Connor Halliday and linebacker Logan Mayes, cougars that prowl or Cougars that growl . . . ”

DirecTV has been dug in now since the Pac-12 Networks inception. The league’s stance is that it’s offering the same deal that its many other carriers have accepted, and that to undercut it would require the Pac-12 to go back and give the same sweeter deals that it would ostensibly make to DirecTV.

“DirecTV is not willing to give Pac-12 fans their networks,” said Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Pac-12 Networks president .”We wanted to find a clear and simple way to show those fans what they are missing without the Pac-12 Networks and rally them to get it.”

Pac-12 universities will be joining the campaign shortly, with statements from their athletic directors and coaches advising a switch from DirecTV to the 50-plus carriers who have Pac-12 Networks.

The San Francisco ad agency BarrettSF led the creative campaign.

“We realize this is affecting many of our fans and we share their frustration,” said Murphy-Stephans in the conference’s release.  “We built the Pac-12 Networks to give fans unprecedented access to their favorite teams and sports on TV, and with just two weeks before the fall-sports schedule begins, DirecTV continues to deny them that access.”

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