Pac-12 Media Rights Remain Unsold as Conference Searches for Broadcast Partner
The Pac-12 is in a bit of a sticky spot. The Power Five conference is still looking for a new broadcast partner for its football and basketball games, as its current media deals are set to expire in 2024. FOX and ESPN are the conference’s current television partners, but Pac-12 commissioner George Kliakov is reportedly focused on landing the conference a digital partner. Whether this is a move designed to move the conference into a streaming future, or a result of traditional broadcast outlets being less interested in the Pac-12 as its two biggest brands — UCLA and USC — are bolting for the Big Ten in fall 2024 is up to interpretation.
Either way, Kliakov may succeed in achieving his digital goal, though at a price that he finds less than ideal. Front Office Sports is reporting that the Pac-12’s list of potential partners is dwindling, sapping what little leverage the league had. The report states that the conference has been in negotiations with Amazon to host games on its streaming service Prime Video, but that the e-commerce giant has been pushing hard for a deal that will be less financially advantageous to the Pac-12.
That may rankle higher-ups at the league, but there are reportedly not a lot of options left. Brett McMurphy of Action Network reported via Twitter that Warner Bros. Discovery and CBS were both out on the rights bidding. That leaves Disney, FOX, Amazon, and NBC still in contention, though NBC is less likely because of its existing deals with the Big Ten to broadcast and stream games, as well as its status as the exclusive broadcast partner of Notre Dame.
The Pac-12 wants an increase in its per-school payout, but that may be a hard sell for the remaining bidders. With two of the conference’s biggest and most prestigious schools switching to the Big Ten in 2024, the draw isn’t as high for broadcasters as it was last time around. That weakens the conference’s leverage even further, as it will no longer be able to use those schools as a selling point for potential broadcast partners.
FOX may well decide that it’s worth it to carry Pac-12 rights exclusively. Company executives recently signaled they were in the market to make large acquisitions, and, similar to Amazon, they could negotiate a deal on their own terms. FOX already hosts some Big Ten football games, as well as contests from the Big 12, and of course has a robust NFL slate as well. The Pac-12 seems to need FOX more than FOX needs the Pac-12, so an exclusive broadcasting deal between the two sides would likely be highly favorable for the network.
All signs are currently pointing to a less-than-stellar deal for the Pac-12 when it does agree with any media outlet. Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors and analysts in the company’s quarterly earnings call that the company would be “selective” about pursuing major sports rights in the future, a caution that is more than warranted given its current financial situation. Disney is in the midst of a company-wide cost-saving initiative, prompted in part by billions of dollars in losses from its streaming segments.
If Disney is out, that means the Pac-12 is essentially down to Amazon and FOX as potential partners. Amazon is looking to expand its offerings of live sports and has been exploring the possibility of launching a standalone sports app for months. The company is also expected to have interest in bidding on NBA streaming rights if they become available after the 2024-25 season, and if it adds college sports to its portfolio its lineup would be impressive indeed.
Prime Video currently serves as the exclusive digital home of “Thursday Night Football.” The service also carries select English Premier League soccer matches, as well as in-market New York Yankees games and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. The company is reportedly playing hardball with the Pac-12, but the conference may be stuck with Amazon’s terms if it cannot make itself appealing enough to Disney and FOX to keep their relationship intact past 2024.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 10,000+ movies, TV shows, and Prime Originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” “Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Boys,” and more. Subscribers can also add third-party services like Showtime, and Starz with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Prime Video also offers exclusive live access to NFL Thursday Night Football.
The Prime Video interface shows content included with your subscription alongside the ad-supported Freevee library and some shows and movies you need to purchase, so be sure to double-check your selection before you watch.
Prime Video is included with Amazon Prime for $12.99 per month ($119 per year), or can be purchased on its own for $8.99 per month.