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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Newest Factors Influencing Pac-12 Media Rights Negotiations

  • If UCLA is forced to stay in the Pac-12, the conference could score a major win in media rights value.
  • The arrival of Deion Sanders to Colorado could also help with broadcast negotiations.
Commissioner George Kliavkoff talks at PAC 12 media day
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year, the Big Ten and Big 12 both secured new media rights packages. The Pac-12, whose current 12-year, $3 billion expires in 2024, has been negotiating a new package of its own since the summer.

But last week, Commissioner George Kliavkoff said the conference likely wouldn’t have a finalized deal before the end of the year. 

The prolonged timeline makes sense given two relatively new — but major — factors that could increase the conference’s value.

The first is the fate of UCLA. The UC Board of Regents, a 26-member board that presides over all UC schools, has considered prohibiting the conference from joining the Big Ten. The decision was supposed to be made before Thanksgiving but has been postponed until Dec. 14. 

If the regents force UCLA to stay put in the Pac-12, the conference undoubtedly has major added value to its negotiations. At a conference on Wednesday, Kliavkoff confirmed that he doesn’t want to finalize a new deal until UCLA’s future is determined.

The second is the arrival of Deion Sanders, who left his position at Jackson State last weekend to be the new head football coach at Colorado

Kliavkoff said Wednesday that he believes Sanders adds to the conference’s overall media value. While that value may be indirect, evidence already supports his claim. 

  • Sanders played a major role in elevating the exposure of Jackson State football — his influence directly contributed to NIL deals for athletes and better broadcast slots, including a week hosting ESPN College GameDay.
  • In the days after Sanders’ arrival at Colorado, social media engagement and followers skyrocketed for Colorado’s football accounts. 
  • Sanders makes Colorado a more appealing team for television broadcasters ESPN and Fox.
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“What’s very clear is that Deion Sanders is relevant to sports fans of all ages. Not just prospective recruits,” Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt said.

Conference realignment could also improve the Pac-12’s standing with networks, but Kliavkoff said that’s on hold until there’s a new deal, too. 

Editor’s Note: FOS Senior Writer Michael McCarthy contributed to this report.

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