The wait for a Pac-12 television deal continues.
The conference will not announce a new media rights contract this week, sources tell Yahoo Sports, likely extending into August the league’s year-long pursuit of new TV suitors.
The Pac-12 holds its annual football media day Friday in Las Vegas, where coaches, athletes and administrators gather for a celebration of the upcoming season. The marquee event was seen as an ideal setting to announce a new television deal. However, the league is not prepared to announce a contract despite what has been described as “accelerated” progress in negotiations.
A timeline for a Pac-12 deal has been a moving target. Over the last several months, conference presidents have set deadlines for a deal, none of which have been met. The expectation is that the league will finalize a TV package before the 2023 season kicks off, but even that is a changeable date. One source described the most recent timeline as the “near future.”
The Pac-12’s future broadcasting rights have, for a year now, been at the center of the college football world, with implications that could reshape the entire landscape of the industry. Conferences and their members rely on media rights deals as their chief revenue generators. The Pac-12 distributed $37 million to each school in 2022-23, much of it from its current television package.
The league’s TV deal, with ESPN and Fox, expires next July.
The pursuit of a new package began last summer, when USC and UCLA announced their intention to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten starting in fall of 2024. The stunning news hurtled the Pac-12 into an unstable situation, where the loss of the Los Angeles market dented the league’s media rights value.
Other leagues, namely the Big 12, mobilized to attract Pac-12 members, and one school is believed to be more susceptible to leaving than the rest: Colorado. A new TV package is essential in keeping intact the 10 schools and, at a later date, expanding to add others, such as potential targets San Diego State and SMU.
Both the visibility and monetary structure of a TV package are imperative to keep members such as Colorado from exiting for the Big 12, which leaped ahead of the Pac-12 last fall by signing its own new TV deal with ESPN and Fox starting in 2025. While those within the Big 12 express continued confidence in poaching Pac-12 schools, Pac-12 officials remain confident their broadcasting package will rival that of the Big 12.
In a board meeting with Pac-12 presidents on June 30, commissioner George Kliavkoff and conference leadership presented officials with a general framework of a TV deal that is expected to include a linear presence for the conference’s marquee football and basketball games. The deal will likely be shorter than traditional conference TV contracts — seven years or fewer.
Through the lengthy negotiations, conference officials have preached patience to school administrators amid an ever-changing landscape of college athletics, where streamers are entering the marketplace and large linear networks, such as ESPN, have become more selective while also cutting personnel.
It’s unclear with whom the Pac-12 has been negotiating. ESPN, Fox, NBC and CBS have all recently struck partnerships with other conferences, including the SEC (ESPN), the Big Ten (Fox, NBC and CBS) and the Big 12 (ESPN and Fox). Streamers such as Amazon and Apple have delved into the sports world lately as well.
If the Pac-12 does choose a streaming service as its primary broadcasting partner, the league is expected to require that streamer to sub-license marquee games on a linear service.