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.
Apple still has not made formal offer for Pac-12’s media rights, but 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
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) February 24, 2023
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.”
ION/Scripps Sports is not involved in the Pac-12's TV negotiations, a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells @TheAthletic.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) February 24, 2023
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.