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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Will Pac-12 Schools Bite On Apple’s Pitch?

  • The Pac-12 is reportedly considering a media-rights deal with Apple.
  • Schools like Arizona and Arizona State are rumored to be considering a move to the Big 12.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been over 24 hours since Pac-12 presidents, chancellors, and athletic directors held a closed-door meeting reportedly including details on a proposed media rights deal with Apple — with no further details forthcoming.

Financial terms are unclear, as the value of the deal could evidently fluctuate based on new subscribers to the Apple TV+ service. Is this deal enticing enough to keep the existing conference members together?

USC, UCLA, and Colorado are leaving the Pac-12 next summer, and Arizona and Arizona State could be fielding a proposal to join the Big 12 at this very moment. An Arizona board of regents meeting on Tuesday offered no public details before going into a special executive session.

Best-Case Scenario?

While a streaming-heavy deal could limit the Pac-12’s broadcast reach, it may have been the conference’s best option all along, according to veteran sports business consultant Jim Williams. 

Extending with current partners ESPN and Fox or seeking out NBC or CBS could leave the Pac-12 “outshined” by those networks’ other partners like the SEC or Big Ten, Williams told Front Office Sports. “Why are you clinging to linear when linear’s not helping?”

For Apple, a Pac-12 deal would be another “proof of concept,” per Williams, as the tech giant continues to build out a sports portfolio that includes global MLS rights and Friday night MLB games. 

“You can’t look at Apple like a traditional television network,” Williams said, alluding to most broadcasters’ goal of filling air time with the most valuable content they can. “They don’t think that way.”

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