Apple Eyeing Pac-12 Rights to Expand Sports Coverage on Apple TV+
The Pac-12 conference must feel a bit like a social pariah these days. Two of its biggest schools —USC and UCLA— are leaving, and many media outlets seem decidedly lukewarm about bidding for its broadcast rights, which are set to become available in 2024.
In what is hopefully a good sign for the conference, it appears one more potential bidder has slid into the Pac-12’s DMs. That company is Apple, which may be in the process of opening talks with the conference, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. The tech company is looking to expand its sports offerings on Apple TV+, and this could be its new path forward.
Apple hasn’t been afraid of taking big swings at sports rights in the past. Apple TV will be the streaming home of every Major League Soccer game over the next 10 years via MLS Season Pass, thanks to a deal between Apple and MLS stemming from last June. It appeared for months that Apple TV would be the new destination of NFL Sunday Ticket as well, though that deal fell apart when the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal that made sense to Apple.
It’s a bit too soon in the process to say that the Pac-12 is getting desperate for a media partner, but things are trending in that direction. It is currently the only Power 5 conference without a rights deal in place beyond 2024, when its deal with FOX and ESPN will expire. The Big 12 leapt in front of the Pac-12 in October, when it signed deals with both of those networks to distribute its games.
FOX also holds a share of Big Ten media rights, and ESPN will hold the rights to all SEC football games starting next year. In short, neither network has a pressing need to add Pac-12 games to its programming lineup, and Amazon has been the only other seriously interested party so far. But Amazon has reportedly been playing hardball with the Pac-12 in negotiations, so the introduction of Apple into the process is leverage the conference sorely needs.
If Apple were to add the Pac-12, it would be another sign that the company is serious about competing with the major names in the streaming industry. With a lineup of quality original programs, plus live sports like college football and MLB baseball, Apple TV+ would be a force to be reckoned with.
Apple TV+ is a subscription video streaming service for $6.99 a month that includes high-quality original shows and movies including Best Picture winner “CODA,” popular sitcom “Ted Lasso,” and dramas like “The Morning Show” and “Severance.” Apple TV+ is also home to MLB baseball games on Friday nights and MLS Season Pass.
If you purchase an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, you can get a free year of Apple TV+.