Distribution chief Alden Budill departs

The Pac-12 Networks, which have struggled for distribution since their inception, no longer have a head of distribution.

Three years after her arrival, Alden Budill is leaving the networks.

“I’ve made the difficult decision to move on from the Pac-12,” Budill told the Hotline via email.

“It’s time for me to tackle a new decade and new challenges. I’ve had a terrific run here, and I’m grateful for the close friendships I will take with me. I wish the entire team nothing but the best and will remain a loyal fan :)”

As Head of Distribution, Budill oversaw affiliate sales and marketing:

She was the networks’ point person for managing the current carriage deals and seeking new ones.

Budill grew up in the Bay Area, attended Stanford and lives in San Francisco.

Her departure further clouds the near- and intermediate-term future of the conference’s wholly-owned media company.

The Pac-12 Networks have not secure a deal with DirecTV or significantly expanded their distribution since the early years of their existence.

And according to figures provided to the Hotline last spring by SNL Kagan, the industry research firm, the networks have just 17.9 million subscribers.

That’s fewer than The Pursuit Channel and Z Living (per 2018 estimates) and approximately one-third the total of the SEC and Big Ten networks.

Late last year, the Pac-12 Networks went dark on U-Verse after the conference and AT&T declined to renew a comprehensive partnership.

(The decision was made prior to the 2018 football season, but Budill and her team managed to secure carriage on U-Verse through November to avoid disruption for subscribers.)

The lack of exposure for the Pac-12 Networks has deeply frustrated fans and school officials, who expected greater distribution and more revenue when the business model was pitched to the campuses prior to the 2012 launch.

The networks’ lagging performance on those fronts has been a primary source of criticism directed at commissioner Larry Scott, whose compensation ($5.3 million) is based, in part, on his role as a media executive.

And now the lieutenant in charge of distribution, whose background includes stints at Discovery and the Oprah Winfrey Network, is leaving the Pac-12 after just three years.

On the scale of omens, Budill’s departure registers as an 11.

It indicates no carriage breakthroughs are expected — particularly with DirecTV — before the conference renegotiates its full complement of media rights in 2024.

That’s a long time to carry on with just 17.9 million subscribers.

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