The Pac-12 Conference’s media rights are up for grabs! An ensuing, expensive bidding war is expected to take place.
As things currently stand, the west coast-based conference is on the tail-end of a 12-year deal with ESPN and FOX that runs through 2023-24. However, once the deal reaches its conclusion, the Pac-12 is on its own.
To try and get out ahead of the open market, ESPN and FOX were granted an exclusive negotiating window as the incumbent carriers. The conference and two broadcast networks could only negotiate the current package of rights.
According to the Sports Business Journal, neither party could get a deal done and the window has closed. That allows the Pac-12 to take all of its games to the open market.
This is where things will get interesting.
A bidding war is set to unfold for Pac-12 Conference media rights.
The Pac-12 will begin the next phase of negotiations with companies beyond ESPN and FOX for both linear TV rights and streaming rights. If things go how the conference would like, multiple bidders will put their hats in the ring and drive up the asking price.
In addition, the new deal will be modernized. The current deal was signed 12 (!!) years ago and was considered groundbreaking. That is no longer the case.
During the new negotiation cycle, the Pac-12 may be able to negotiate new start times. It could mean the death of #Pac12AfterDark.
The Conference will also seek more money than the $250 million it currently receives annually from ESPN and FOX.
While there is no clear front-runner to land the Pac-12 rights, ESPN and FOX are expected to continue to pursue a new deal. On their heels, though, is the future — streaming.
Apple and Amazon are both believed to have an interest in Pac-12 rights. That could potentially take the conference’s games off of the airwaves and onto streaming platforms, exclusively.
If that happens, the future of live sports would change forever.