It's no secret that the Pac-12 has been looking for more ways to gain visibility in a college sports world dominated by conferences with dedicated networks that are available on all cable and satellite providers. The conference has gone so far as to suggest 9 a.m. PT kickoff times for football games in order for the East Coast viewers to get a glimpse of football out west. The new opportunity could be in the digital world.
The Sports Business Journal reported on Monday that several tech companies, such as Apple, Netflix, Amazon and Facebook, are interested in taking over the Pac-12's primary media rights deal when it expires in 2024. It would replace the current $250 million deal the conference has with ESPN and Fox.
"This is what they're telling us," Pac-12 Networks president Mark Shuken told the SBJ. "Several of them have come to us and said that they want to be in this space."
The report indicates that Apple, which recently launched its Apple TV+ service across multiple devices, seems to have the most interest.
"They said that they are very interested in learning more about the rights and learning more about the business to determine whether or not they'd be a viable partner in 2024," Shuken said. "They said that, on the surface, we look like a good partner to investigate."
This is hardly a surprise based on current trends. Major League Baseball has one game per week exclusively on Facebook Watch, the NFL has had several games simulcasted on Amazon Prime over the last few years and ESPN+ has exclusive rights to multiple sports. But a Power Five conference moving its primary rights to a streaming service would signify a massive shift in the landscape of live sports distribution.