It looks like one reported suitor for Pac-12 rights may not be all that interested. Last week, Stewart Mandel and Max Olson of The Athletic reported that “there have been recent discussions between the Pac-12 and The CW,” raising the possibility of the conference joining LIV Golf in sports events on that network. But John Ourand of Sports Business Journal wrote in his newsletter Monday that while there were indeed Pac-12 talks with The CW, they’re not expected to lead to anything:
* Pac-12 rights update.
* Who will call USFL games for Fox, NBC?
* Emmy nominations for best “Live Special” leak out.
SBJ Media: https://t.co/DdvQnTCCwT
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) April 10, 2023
Here’s more on that from Ourand’s piece:
Last week, The Athletic reported that The CW emerged as a new potential partner for the Pac-12. Sources told me that CW reps did hold initial talks with the conference. But those talks never got serious. The Pac-12 expects to wind up with deals that combine traditional TV with streaming. But there’s little chance that The CW will end up with those rights, sources said.
The idea of Pac-12 games going to The CW wasn’t exactly a hit for many fans, so there may be some relief here for them. However, the destination options are starting to look pretty limited. The conference’s exclusive negotiating window with current partners ESPN and Fox expired in October, and they haven’t exactly seemed overwhelmed with offers since then.
In February, Brett McMurphy of Action Network reported that CBS and WBD Sports were “no longer involved” in Pac-12 media negotiations. And Fox hasn’t seemed too interested either, with Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks telling Ourand and Andrew Marchand in February “I think we’re really content and able to be opportunistic. If there was something opportunistically with the Pac-12, but now that we have the Big Ten and the Big 12 done, I think we’re content with where we are.”
NBC may not be a great fit either, as they’ve already dramatically increased their college football content (and what they need to find space for) with their Big Ten deal. And that deal focuses on Saturday night games, which removes one of the key windows where the Pac-12 might be useful. And while ESPN has shown interest (which could also involve ABC games), they were reportedly “hundreds of millions apart” from the conference last fall. There’s been some discussion of Ion, but there are conflicting reports on if they’ve even been in talks with the conference.
That’s added to the talk of most of the Pac-12 games likely going to streaming. Amazon has been seen as a leading option there, but Apple is perhaps also interested. But all in all, it looks like no resolution is imminent, with Ourand writing that a deal is “months away” and might not come until August. It is notable to see The CW seemingly removed as an option, though, and that further narrows the remaining options for the conference.