Could the surviving members of the Pac-12 finally have found a media suitor?
But it is about time a sliver of news broke that painted the league’s future with a positive brush.
According to numerous sources, including the New York Post, Apple TV+ has emerged as a potential landing spot for Pac-12 football.
Neither Apple nor the Pac-12 would confirm what sources say is a potential agreement.
The Post reported: “Apple TV+ began with live ‘Friday Night Baseball’ games last season. It is about to start a 10-year, $2.5 billion agreement with MLS in which it will have the global rights to stream all the league’s games with an all-inclusive package that is $99 for subscribers. An all-in deal similar to MLS would be more in line for the Pac-12 with Apple.”
This could be the lifeline the Pac-12 needs to hold itself together.
Other courtiers, including ESPN, could accentuate a packaged deal. This comes after it appears Amazon and Fox have cooled on forking out significant money for rights to Pac-12 games. ESPN is not going to pay the top-dollar figure Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff promised last summer when he said a new media deal would be near $40 million per team per year.
Apple ranks No. 9 in the world in streaming subscriptions behind No. 1 Netflix, No. 2 Amazon Prime and third-place Disney+. In the U.S., Apple, with 40 million subscribers, doesn’t make the top 10, which is led by Amazon Prime at 78 million and Netflix at 66.7 million.
This news is met with mixed thoughts as the Pac-12 is nearer to expanding with San Diego State and SMU.
League critic Jason Scheer, who covers Arizona out of Tucson for 247Sports, tweeted: “A deal that is 100 percent with Apple is so bad it’s probably going to happen.”
A deal that is 100 percent with Apple is so bad it’s probably going to happen https://t.co/o3kuxXiesw— Jason Scheer (@jasonscheer) February 21, 2023
A contributor for Forbes Magazine believes any media contract should be signed as fast as possible, then the Pac-12 should look at a merger with the ACC.
Wrote Forbes contributor Jim Williams as he quoted Florida-based media consultant Jeff Edwards: “The answer is there is no reason for any of the Pac-12 members, including the four corner schools, to leave the conference at this point. What the conference needs is to stay together and quickly ink a new four- or five-year media rights deal as we see how the college realignment saga plays out. I think that staying together and using that time to engage the ACC in talks about a future merger or alliance is in the best interest of both conferences. The chance to join the Big 12 will be there four years from now.”
Pac-12 insider Jon Wilner, a San Jose Mercury News sportswriter, scored an interview with Washington State president Kirk Schultz, who said Pac-12 leadership isn’t “spiraling off into places of despair,” as some have postulated in national media commentary and fandom.
WSU president Kirk Schulz spoke to the Hotline about the media rights process and his convos with other #Pac12 presidents:https://t.co/tN4Z3GnM8h— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) February 21, 2023
But WSU is a school with every reason to push a positive narrative. The Cougars have the most to lose if the league were to collapse or Big 12 poaching were to occur.
Oregon and Washington may have the most to gain if Pac-12 media discussions linger until late spring with the Big Ten due to name a new commissioner, Oregon set to hire a new president, and Notre Dame possibly making a decision on its TV/league future.
In reality, Washington and Oregon have every incentive to prolong this into April/May to see who the new B1G commissioner will be; Oregon to get a new president; and to get clarity on whether ND is forced into the B1G which would open a door for them.— Ryan G Thomas (@Running_Ryan) February 21, 2023
There are folks in the Pac-12 who have gone to social media to report that a myriad of league administrators are getting antsy, despite last week’s press release declaring solidarity. Anxiety levels are high. Some say presidents and chancellors are communicating with one another to find how they’re reading the tea leaves.
My source in the UW Athletic Department says Washington has an unofficial offer from BY to join the Big12 that will pay them a 115% share of revenue with a GOR out clause if the Big10 calls.— Pac12 Sports on Prime (@Pac12onPrime) February 20, 2023
She assumes Oregon has the same “offer.”
This could actually be the end of the Pac12.
By no means is Apple TV+ a home run or a guarantee of a pile of money for Pac-12 programs. According to the New York Post, Apple+ is known to be “persnickety” in contract negotiations, a sticking point in why the NFL Sunday Ticket never happened.
In the meantime, SDSU could become a pinball in all of this. The Pac-12 needs to lock up the Aztecs or the Big 12 might take SDSU as part of a plan by commissioner Brett Yormark to get Pacific time zone properties.
One Twitter poster pointed out that since 2009-10, the Aztecs lead the nation in combined basketball and football victories, just ahead of Ohio State. Another article out of the Pac-12 called adding SDSU and Southern Methodist a disaster.
Break out the popcorn.