Conflicting reports emerged on Friday about the potential of the surprising ION TV bidding for Pac-12 media rights. Oregon’s Bucky Irving, center, breaks through the Washington defense during the second quarter Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. Ncaa Football Oregon Washington Football Washington At Oregon

The Pac-12 is presently in a state of flux. Two of its flagship schools, USC and UCLA, are bolting to the Big Ten. Furthermore, the conference is still trying to work out a new media rights deal. To that end, conflicting reports emerged on Friday about a potential surprise suitor.

The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy tweeted on Friday that “Apple still has not made[a] formal offer for Pac-12’s media rights.” Then, he shared that another surprising network is a potential partner.

“ION television has emerged as a potential Pac-12 partner, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ . ION TV is owned by E.W. Scripps Company, which has 61 local TV stations nationwide & launched Scripps Sports this year,” McMurphy tweeted.

In 2022, ION was America’s 11th most watched network, coming in between the Hallmark Channel and TLC. It also ranked ahead of well-known networks, like TNT and TBS. So, it’s a formidable network. But sports has never been its forte. So, the idea of a Pac-12 ION partnership comes largely from out of the blue.

And on that note, a little more than an hour after McMurphy’s update, Stewart Mandel of The Athletic tweeted that “ION/Scripps Sports is not involved in the Pac-12’s TV negotiations, a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells @TheAthletic.”

While a streaming deal with Apple has been recently thought of as the most logical home for Pac-12 rights, at least ION would represent a partner that could air games on linear television, as unlikely as it would be. Both McMurphy and Mandel are well-connected in the college football world, so seeing them at opposite ends of the spectrum on a potential Pac-12 ION partnership is unexpected. If nothing else, the conflicting reports coming in such a short period of time show us how fluid this situation surrounding the Pac-12’s uncertain future is.

[Brett McMurphy, Stewart Mandel]

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