Arizona

Nov 30, 2013 12:39 PM by Randy Cordova- The Republic | azcentral.com

Territorial Cup: ASU-UA football game eludes DirecTV viewers

Tension and frustration are building around this year's Territorial Cup matchup between Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, and it has nothing to do with the schools' infamous rivalry.

Instead, it boils down to the fact that some of the rivals' biggest fans won't be able to catch the game on TV.

DirecTV has not reached an agreement to carry Pac-12 Networks, which is broadcasting the 7:30 p.m. game. That leaves out people who purchased DirecTV specifically for its sports programming.

Phil Hofmeister had already invited six pals to watch the game at his Chandler home before he learned that DirecTV wasn't carrying it.

"Now, I don't know what we're going to do," said Hofmeister, who works for Maricopa County. "I have to figure out a new game plan. Maybe we'll just head to a bar someplace to watch the game."

But even that may not be an easy fix. At the Hub Grill and Bar in east Mesa, the issue of Pac-12 Networks games has come up since the network launched in 2012.

"We get people asking for games on the Pac-12 Network," assistant manager Steve Adkins said. "College games have been a big draw for us when they're on normal TV. But when it's not on DirecTV, there's nothing we can do."

He said the restaurant won't drop DirecTV, because of the popularity of its sports packages, such as NFL Sunday Ticket and NBA League Pass.

But it still hurts when a game this big comes around.

"I'm sure we'll feel the effects, because this is a huge rivalry," Adkins said. "It's sad, but it's the truth. For a lot of people, watching the game would be more important than coming to our restaurant."

That extends to some of his staff.

"I've got employees taking the day off so they can go watch the game," he said.

A spokesman for DirecTV referred questions to a statement the company released this week. In part, it says, "Even though it is unwilling to invest its best games into its own channel, the conference has still established a high price for Pac-12 Networks and refuses to compromise."

DirecTV does not disclose how many subscribers it has in the Valley, so the number of people affected could not be determined.

The standoff is good news for Cox, which has offered Pac-12 since the beginning as part of its advanced-level programming.

"We've gotten calls since last season from some commercial ventures because they weren't getting it from our competitors," Cox spokeswoman Andrea Katsenes said.

The increased attention from tonight's game at Sun Devil Stadium, which is sold out, has added some heat from people who want to see the game at home.

Then, there's the matter that the intensity of the rivalry hasn't diminished. A bronze Wildcat sculpture at UA was vandalized last weekend after someone spray-painted "ASU" on it in yellow. That came after the white A on Tempe's "A" Mountain was painted Wildcat red. All that has drawn added attention to the game.

"With both hometown teams being in the conference and people starting to make plans for their Territorial Cup parties, we are hearing from people," Katsenes said, adding that Cox also has a feature that allows people to view the game on iPads.

The game won't be hard to come by: Dish subscribers also receive Pac-12 Networks, and plenty of bars and restaurants will carry the game. Tempe's Native New Yorker has had Pac-12 Networks for a little less than a year. It was a no-brainer for the business.

"The game is incredibly important, due to (the restaurant's) proximity to the ASU campus," marketing coordinator Cynthia Velasco said. "All ASU games tend to have a strong following at this location."

Still, for others, there is frustration. Attorney and ASU College of Law alum Robert Pastor said he often discusses games he wants to watch with his 5-year-old son, who has replied, "Well, I hope it's not on the Pac-12 Network."

"I was so looking forward to having my post-Thanksgiving leftovers and sitting on the couch and watching the game," Pastor said. "Now, what am I going to do?"

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