For something like the third time in the last six months, the Pac-12 is moving their timeline for a new TV deal back.
On Thursday, Stewart Mandel of The Athletic reported that the timeline had shifted back to “late spring, early summer.”
Pac-12 TV update: The timeline for a deal is now "late spring, early summer" according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Several Pac-12 presidents had recently said a deal was imminent. The source said those comments were "overly optimistic."
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) April 6, 2023
This is the latest step back for the conference in their hunt for a new media rights deal, which began in earnest last July. Those talks over the summer resulted in no new deal with existing rightsholders ESPN and Fox, resulting in the exclusive negotiating window coming to an end and the conference’s rights heading to the open market.
After the Big 12 re-upped with ESPN and Fox, the Pac-12 felt “relieved” and “optimistic” that it could exceed those contracts, which hasn’t happened five months later. In December, commissioner George Kliavkoff kicked the can to 2023, saying not to expect a resolution to the conference’s rights negotiation by the end of the 2022 calendar year. In February, the conference’s board released a statement that mentioned “successful media rights deal(s) in the very near future,” though I guess we have different definitions of “the very near future.”
And here we are now, looking at the “late spring, early summer” for a new rights deal. That would seem to indicate what, Memorial Day at the earliest?
In all honesty, I don’t think this is the worst development for the Pac-12. Despite repeated overtures from the Big 12, the directional schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) haven’t bailed on their current conference. The Big 12’s offer can’t exactly get any better, either. The Pac-12 could become more appealing to potential bidders for their rights if it expands (San Diego State and SMU have been most closely tied to a move), and the delay in a new rights deal getting inked could allow more bidders to enter the fray and possibly drive up the price.
While we all want a resolution to this saga that has dragged on for almost a year, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer.