Now doesn’t seem like the best time for the Pac-12, down two members and potentially more, to start its latest round of media rights negotiations, but that’s what will be happening.
On Tuesday, the conference announced that its Board of Directors authorized the immediate start of negotiations for its next media rights deal.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) July 5, 2022
That’s all well and good, given that the Big Ten has already agreed to a deal with Fox and is in talks with several other companies for a chunk of its rights and that the Big 12, possibly looking to raid the Pac-12 of more members following the defection of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten, is also coming to the end of its existing rights deals.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports that the conference will have an exclusive 30-day window with current partners ESPN and Fox before another bidder can come to the table.
Indications are the Pac-12 will begin an exclusive 30-day negotiation window with ESPN and Fox. Other bidders can then weigh in after that if a deal isn't done.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 5, 2022
I kind of look at this like a kid applying to college – let’s say he applies to three schools, one he really wants, one strong backup plan, and one safety school. If the safety school grants him admission first, is he really going to jump on that when there’s a chance he could still get into a school he prefers more? In this case, the Big Ten is the school he really wants, the Big 12 is the strong backup plan, and the Pac-12 is the safety school. If the 30 day exclusive period ends and the Big Ten deal isn’t done, why would a company that is interested in those rights (say, Apple, CBS, NBC, etc) immediately pivot to the Pac-12 when the Big Ten is still on the table?
Granted, it’s not a “pick one” like with the college analogy, but the Pac-12 is the least desirable of the three options. Nudging potential partners into getting a deal done sooner rather than later could potentially scare off parties that might be more interested if they lost out on the Big Ten. It also could pressure the conference into accepting a deal that would be below its expectations, just so they could get *something* done. I’d also be wary of potential bidders deciding to sit out discussions for the time being while waiting for the realignment dust to settle, though I’d imagine there would be clauses included in a possible deal related to the conference losing more schools.
Anyway, I wish the Pac-12 all the luck. It sure would be a shame if Pac-12 after dark met a cruel end in the coming years.