Thursday’s shocking announcement that UCLA and USC were joining the Big Ten had an unexpected effect on a company that has nothing to do with the conference’s media operations – Apple.
Per the Sports Business Journal, Apple wants to re-enter the conversation about the Big Ten’s media rights. Fox is the conference’s primary media partner (and will remain so for the foreseeable future), and CBS, ESPN, and NBC have all expressed interest in joining them as a partner going forward.
Apple, along with Warner Bros. Discovery, was far down the list of potential partners. In fact, they had previously been linked to a rights deal with the Pac-12. Nothing immediately came of those talks, and much of the smoke dissipated.
But with the announcement that the two Los Angeles schools would be moving from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, Apple now wants back in on those discussions. The company has gotten aggressive with sports this year, inking deals with both MLB and MLS (the latter encompassing its entire media rights package) while being linked to NFL Sunday Ticket. It makes sense, because those Pac-12 rights that Apple previously discussed will be much less valuable without UCLA and USC, and could be devalued even further if more schools jump ship from the conference.
With the ACC and SEC locked in to long deals with ESPN, the Big 12 seems to be the primary fallback option for networks looking at high-level college football if they miss out on the Big Ten’s rights. But the Big 12’s rights have also been devalued following the jump of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, and it’ll be interesting to see what the intrigue level is from networks that finish on the outside of the Big Ten’s rights picture.