PAC-12 Wants Its Athletes to Monetize Their Game Highlights

As college athletes and institutions find creative avenues to monetize player NIL rights, the Pac-12 is giving its students new ways to leverage their game highlights.

The conference announced an expanded partnership with Opendorse and Twitter today that will allow athletes to more freely post highlights on the platform and secure pre-roll advertising dollars for doing so. The program is also the result of an overarching, multifaceted data tech partnership the Pac-12 created with Tempus Ex Machina in March.

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“The Pac-12 is committed to providing our student-athletes with best-in-class technology, tools and promotional platforms that support their individual brands,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said in a statement. “Our partnership with Tempus Ex is focused on enhancing our student-athlete and fan experiences, and today’s announcement is another important step in positioning the Pac-12 as a leader when it comes to student-athlete promotion and brand building.”

Last year, the Pac-12 became the first conference to let athletes license content from its media arm, thanks in part to the fact that Pac-12 Networks owns the licensing rights to the conference’s game footage, even if it airs on another network like Fox or ESPN first.

This version of the program streamlines things further. While an athlete or brand previously needed to secure a license for the footage, they now will have preapproved access to clips of themselves and teammates available on Opendorse’s athlete NIL platform for posting to Twitter—with plans to expand the opportunity to other social platforms as well.

“A big problem that we had in this whole process was most properties look for a big guarantee upfront or they’re looking for a big amount of money in order to secure the rights to that content,” Opendorse head of strategic partnerships TJ Ciro said in an interview with Sportico. “And the Pac-12 was willing to get creative with us in terms of how we could create the partnership, so that everybody could win at the end of the day.”

In exchange for posting two highlights per week (win or lose), football players who are approved for the program this fall will receive $1,250 as well as a potential percentage of the program’s overall revenue. The program will then expand to include men’s and women’s basketball players, with a goal to open the opportunity to all Pac-12 athletes and possibly athletes in other conferences as well.

“Twitter has always been and will continue to act as the megaphone for athletes to use their voice,” Twitter Sports senior partner manager David Herman said in a statement. “Now they can leverage their most impactful moments on the field to earn meaningful NIL compensation. We’re thrilled to roll this program out with Pac-12 football and look forward to expanding it to sports and conferences across the country.”

Ciro also credited Tempus Ex Machina’s tech in making this arrangement possible. The company, which helps a number of sports organizations—including the NFL—leverage their multiple data sources, is working with the Pac-12 to maximize the value of the conference’s data rights, inclusive of everything from direct-to-consumer products to metaverse experiences. Tempus—which was founded in fall 2019 by former Alliance of American Football executives Charlie Ebersol, Annie Gerhart, Michael Naquin and Erik Schwartz—recently raised a Series B round from the likes of Silver Lake and Endeavor, while adding fellow investor and former NFL star Larry Fitzgerald to its board.

“Our technology is ready for social media companies to create turnkey monetization programs that student-athletes can opt into and begin to earn income on their own highlights,” Gerhart said in a statement.

In this case, Tempus Ex Machina’s tool will automatically cut and categorize clips directly from in-stadium cameras, therefore offering cleaner video than a TV feed’s.

“We’ve long imagined a world where athletes have instant access to the moments they create inside the lines of their sport,” Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence said in a statement. “This is the future of athlete-driven marketing.”

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