Pac-12’s TV Deal Hits a Snag As Streaming Becomes More Likely




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Earlier this spring at the Fiesta Summit, executives at ESPN told Big 12 officials it was considering airing the league. Now, ESPN has reportedly taken itself out of the running to maintain Pac-12’s primary media rights as the network has been looking into new deals. 

This comes as no surprise to those involved in and following the potential deal. ESPN is directing its focus to contract negotiations with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the UFC, which has merged with the WWE in April of 2023 to form a single, yet-to-be-named company.

ESPN and Fox currently have media rights deals for Pac-12 with an expiration date of July 1st, 2024. According to sources ESPN is “taking a never-say-never approach when it comes to potential partners as negotiations continue,” and possibly could smaller package secondary rights to late-night Tier 1 games. How likely this is to happen is still up for debate.

Alongside ESPN, FOX and other networks haven’t rushed to pick up Pac-12’s content, especially since both USC and UCLA left the conference. It is questionable who will sign a new deal for its primary media rights of Tier 1 games, but CBS Sports reports “Pac-12 remains confident it will land TV media rights deal with a major carrier,” possibly with NBC Universal.

“The league’s Tier I content would likely be categorized as a minimum of two games a week for a rightsholder across a typical 14-week season. Those 28 games may be valued at approximately $200 million, an average of $7 million per game. It has been assumed that an approximate $300 million rights deal might be needed to keep some Pac-12 schools from jumping to the Big 12. If a Tier I deal is closed at that valuation, the league would need to seek at least $100 million for the estimated 47-50 remaining games in the Pac-12 inventory (based on the league remaining at 10 teams.)”

As FOX and NBC Universal renegotiate deals with WWE Monday Night Raw, Pac-12 could be affected if the networks pass it over to focus on acquiring wrestling rights. 

There are growing reports that Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ are now leaders for the Pac-12 TV deal. Apple TV looks to be the top contender for signing a contract for all Pac-12’s major games, however, Amazon could potentially still have the option to stream Friday night games. Negotiations are still taking place, leaving fans with only speculation as to how a future deal will play out.

The Pac-12 network offers hundreds of collegiate events each year. Media rights deals for football and basketball are scheduled to begin in 2024. 

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