TIME TO FACE FACTS: Those sports channels are probably never coming to DIRECTV

Pac12 Network. Spectrum Sportsnet LA. There are other channels out there that DIRECTV fans crave but those two keep coming up as examples of how DIRECTV has “lost its mojo” or “become a slave to the bottom line” or some other thing that trolls say in comments. It’s been long enough now that I think we can call it — those two channels are just not coming to DIRECTV. And while I may have cared a while back… I’m over it.

To be fair there are a lot of people who would like to see the Pac-12 channel. If you’re a college sports person, we’re talking about some of the highest-profile teams in all of collegiate athletics. And if you have DIRECTV, you’re probably hiking over to a friend who has DISH every Saturday during football season.

When it comes to SportsNet LA, the so-called “Dodgers Channel” there were a lot of people who were upset last year when they couldn’t listen to the legendary Vin Scully call his final games, but beyond that it seems like the folks in Southern California just don’t care enough to worry about it. The hew and cry has largely settled, revealing a long-known fact about SoCal sports fans — they’re just not loyal. They’re a mixed breed who follow all sorts of teams all over the country and for the most part they just don’t care about the local teams. (Good luck when they get a second NFL team this fall.)

It’s true there was a time when DIRECTV would pay nearly any price to get nearly any sports channel. But to be fair there were about one-quarter of the channels there are today. Now you have cities with four or five sports channels and it’s a big payout when you look at the fact that our best numbers say only about 30% of people watch live sports.

If ESPN, the biggest name of all in live sports, is having a rough time of it, what’s a smaller network to do? When it comes to Pac-12, I think they should do a streaming app and charge for it. Maybe live TV isn’t their thing. The matter’s a little more confusing for Spectrum SportsNet LA. The channel exists because of a 25-year, multi-zillion-dollar deal between the old Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers organization. The price was simply too high and I have to believe that SportsNet LA is still operating at a lost as a result. I recommended a controlled bankruptcy several times which would allow the channel to forfeit the old deal with the Dodgers and come up with a new and more sustainable one. I still think it’s the best idea, although it would have been smarter to do it during the transition from Time Warner Cable to Charter.

Point is, with declining numbers for pay television overall and low interest levels in those channels, chances are pretty good you’re just not going to see them on DIRECTV, ever. For those who say the company has changed, that they don’t focus on sports anymore, you’re half right. The company has changed. Of course it has changed. The world has changed in 20 years and entertainment has changed in 20 years. If DIRECTV were still the same it wouldn’t survive. But the charge that they “don’t focus on sports” is false; the company still puts up more sports channels than anyone else and more live sports than anyone else. It’s just that they long ago decided not to “drop their drawers” for every greedy sports channel. That’s not a dumb decision, it’s a smart one.

I know that probably doesn’t make you feel better if you’re missing UCLA Baseball right now but it’s the best explanation I have.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.