While the Pac-12 only brought an offer from Apple to the table last week, the conference reportedly did have offers from other major networks.
Ourand reports that Fox’s final offer was for part of what the network considered the Pac-12’s “B” package of games, and would pay out between $35 million and $40 million per season. Fox only would have picked up 13 football games in their proposed deal. While $35 million-$40 million might not seem bad, keep in mind that’s not per school – it’s for the whole conference, meaning the per-school payout would have ended up at around $4 million before defections. The Big 12 gets around $32 million per school through its new deals with ESPN and Fox.
ESPN also reportedly was still in the bidding, with the conference turning down “a significant package” last year. Ourand reports ESPN’s last offer to the conference was “a small bid.”
Additionally, CBS was in the running for Pac-12 rights, but only for roughly five basketball games. That won’t close any gaps with other conferences.
Neither Amazon nor NBC ever bid for Pac-12 rights. It was widely rumored and expected that Amazon would at least try to get a toe in the water, but they never did. The Pac-12 reportedly talked with NBC three times about a rights deal, including this summer, but an offer was never made.
Per Ourand, layoffs and subscriber losses at networks helped dim their enthusiasm for a Pac-12 bid, while streamers were impacted by growing pressure from shareholders.
The delay from last year, when ESPN, Fox and CBS were willing to do a deal, to last week, when all three put forth small bids, was devastating to the Pac-12. A changing media landscape — with shrinking subscriber numbers and employee layoffs — caused the networks to be much more disciplined in where to spend their money than they have in the past.
Similarly, Wall Street hit the streamers hard as shares fell once bankers started prioritizing profits over subscriber growth and caused deep-pocketed companies like Amazon and Apple to also become more disciplined in how much they spend on sports rights.
And that leads us to where we are now – with the Pac-12 now down to just four members as of next summer, still without a new media rights deal.