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If you’ve ever had a five-leg parlay that ends with, say, a late-night Colorado versus Washington State game, you look for it on TV, and you realize it’s on Pac-12 Network, which of course you don’t have, you’re going to be interested in this news: Sources are telling Outkick that the Pac-12 Network is not planning to have any live football inventory this season.
John Canzano of The Oregonian was the first to report that the Pac-12 Network will likely air no games this season, penning an extensive story that paints the network as a “hollow shell of an operation” with an uncertain future.
The reasons for this become pretty clear when you think about it. The Pac-12 is staging a six-game regular season. Instead of just having the conference championship game on December 19th, all Pac-12 teams will be playing that weekend. Thus, with each team hoping to play seven games–with Covid, this is, at best, wishful thinking — there will be a total of 42 Pac-12 games.
The plan, right now, is for all of those games to be divvied up between Fox Sports and ESPN/ABC. In August, Jon Wilner of Mercury News reported that the networks were set to pay the Pac-12 $276.4 million for live rights in the 2020-21 sports cycle. Due to the truncated season, it makes sense for the Pac-12 to minimize the clawbacks of this money by giving bigger network partners broadcasting rights to as many games as possible.
There is a possibility that the Pac-12 Network will wind up with a handful of games that neither Fox nor ESPN/ABC can fit into their schedules, considering the abundance of college football they have to cover in November and December.
Though the Big Ten is in a similar position, there’s no way to paint the current picture of the Pac-12 Network as anything other than a failure. The Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who paid himself and his executives lavish bonuses right before laying off or furloughing approximately half of the conference’s staff, now has a vulnerable future.