Pac-12 TV deal, San Diego State and SMU expansion remain in limbo
The Conference of Champions still has a very uncertain future
The Pac-12 TV deal, rumored to be finished up by this spring, seems to have extended its negotiations into the summer time.
John Ourand has more from Sports Business Journal:
The Pac-12 still is months away from a deal, with sources predicting that something will be in place before next football season starts. Last year, the Big Ten formally announced its blockbuster media rights deals with CBS, Fox and NBC in mid-August, and that is a timeline some have painted as the most realistic for the Pac-12.
A quick executive summary:
The Pac-12 hasn’t finalized its expansion plans, with the loudest rumor involving San Diego State and SMU. Therefore TV executives are having a tough time honing in on the right long-term deal, since they don’t know the exact composition of the conference.
This uncertainty around what the Pac-12 will look like has made finding linear TV partners has been a challenge at the rates the conference wants. ESPN and the Pac-12 apparently remain many miles apart. Fox is reportedly back in the running. A rumor about the CW (who has recently invested in the LIV golf tour) came and went. CBS is out and NBC is likely tapped. The loss of UCLA and USC in the TV market calculations remain immeasurable.
Going 100% streaming is a possible option as well. Apple has seen success with its MLS deal, as has Amazon with the NFL and Thursday Night Football. There is hesitancy about severing the cord entirely with linear TV though. AppleTV and Amazon Prime on their own are mostly severed from the common sports watcher and will be difficult to distribute games and awareness to the masses.
Andrew Marchand has more on Apple’s position:
“For the Pac-12 to reach the $300 million per year mark to basically match the deal the Big 12 received from ESPN and Fox Sports, the most likely platform to pay that at this point would be Apple, as we reported last month,” Andrew Marchand writes. “To be clear, we aren’t saying that is happening, but Apple is the company that could potentially reach that number, and adding Pac-12 rights does fit what Apple seemingly is trying to do in sports. But it figures to be an all-Apple deal.“
Another possibility is to sublicense some of those games to a linear TV provider, as MLS does with its Apple deal, putting some games on Fox. A similar deal with Apple or Amazon as the primary holders with some games being sent out to Fox/ESPN might marry the best of both worlds.
The Pac-12 TV negotiations is also in a pretty tough place because the NBA media rights bidding war is in full swing. This will likely drain the coffers of ESPN and any other linear partner in search of sports TV rights. The rumored number the NBA is seeking is $5-8 billion a year. (The recent Big 12 TV deal was $380 million a year by contrast. The Pac-12 is seeking a similar number.) Given ESPN is likely to bid and win the majority of the package, they are probably happy to go cheap on a smaller package of games. Apple and Amazon are also expected to make bids on what figures to be at least a $1 billion streaming package. Amazon has been playing hardball with the Pac-12 and Apple seems to be waiting it out.
The other issue is the major PR campaigns coming from elsewhere trying to break the Pac-12 up, likely to weaken the conference’s bargaining position in TV rights negotiations and strengthen the media rights of their own holdings. This has come in tandem with a host of rumors about Pac-12 schools seeking new pastures, leading to university athletic directors disputing realignment burner accounts.
But there is still plenty to worry about as long as a TV deal isn’t inked for the Pac-12 that isn’t at least comparative to the Big 12.
Asked about the speculation over the future of the conference, [Arizona president] Robbins rejected the notion that schools, including Arizona, would bolt for the Big 12 prior to being presented with a media rights proposal.
“It’s heavily dependent on (commissioner George Kliavkoff) and his team negotiating a good media deal for us to stay competitive,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody wants to leave. Why would you move for a couple million dollars a year more?”
All signs are that San Diego State, fresh off an NCAA Tournament championship appearance with former Cal Bear Matt Bradley, is ready to make the move. Here’s John Canzano:
MWC member San Diego State already sort of has one foot out the door. The Aztecs held a public celebration for their men’s Final Four basketball season at Snapdragon Stadium on Saturday. Fun was had by all. University President Adela de la Torre used the occasion to drop a hint: “Who knows? Maybe in the near future we will be somewhere else.”
Things remain relatively quiet on SMU’s side.
All in all, until we see Pac-12 expansion actually happen, we’re probably not going to see the final TV deal that everyone in the conference is looking for.
If it means better TV deal and more money for us, Pac12 should expand and get SDSU and SMU.
And Cal should bolt to Big 10 as soon as chance arises.
I have to plug my ears and stammer "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah". I just can't stomach the thought of the Pac being anything other than what I have known my whole life. Hard enough time accepting Utah and Colorado. I'm just heartbroken about the whole conference disintegration. For the LA schools to leave is such a big blow to my sense of West Coast sports. It's not something I'll get over easily or ever.