This is very much a baby step forward in terms of the Pac-12’s media rights, but it seems like the conference’s rights may be going back onto the market sooner rather than later.
Sources told Brett McMurphy of The Action Network that they expected the conference’s next media rights deal to be five or six years long, half the length of the conference’s current 12-year deal with ESPN and Fox.
Pac-12 commish George Kliavkoff told me he's confident remaining members will sign a new Grant of Rights: "They'll sign as soon as I have a deal in front of them that they want to sign up for." Sources told @ActionNetworkHQ they expect new Pac-12 media rights deal to be 5-6 years
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 29, 2022
For context, the SEC’s deal with ESPN that begins next summer is runs through 2034, the ACC’s deal with ESPN runs through 2036, the Big 12 is in the midst of a 13-year pact with ESPN and Fox, and the Big Ten’s expiring deals with Fox and ESPN were six years long.
I actually think, if this is the path the Pac-12 decides to go down, keeping the deal on the shorter side is a good move from the Pac-12. A whole lot can change in the media world in six years, let alone 12. Six years ago, ESPN+ didn’t exist, nor did Peacock, Apple TV+, and many other streaming services that house so much content today. There were vastly more pay TV households than there are today. The live streaming TV model was still in its early stages, with Sling TV and PlayStation Vue leading the way.
Hell, even in just the college football world, things were different – the Pac-12 got a team in the Playoff six years ago!
By locking itself into a long-term deal again, the Pac-12 could miss out on taking advantage of any more shifts in the media landscape. By keeping their next deal shorter, at least the Pac-12 could find itself in a more advantageous position to negotiate a new round of deals prior to the SEC and ACC coming to the market again.
Or, you know, it could blow up in the conference’s face if realignment comes for the Pac-12 again.