Pac-12 media rights: What’s next for the conference after UCLA’s (official) departure

For the Pac-12, it’s Day 1 ALA — After Los Angeles.

UCLA received formal approval on Wednesday from its governing board to proceed with plans to enter the Big Ten, along with USC, on Aug. 2, 2024.

What’s next for the conference and its 10 remaining members?

More of the same, albeit with a bit more clarity.

The final steps had been on hold until the regents resolved UCLA’s situation.

“We didn’t think it made sense to close a media rights deal before that decision was made,” Kliavkoff explained last week during a college athletics forum in Las Vegas.

When negotiations resume after the holidays, the Pac-12 will have the stage to itself — thanks to the conference that has emerged as its primary rival.

On the final weekend of October, the Big 12 announced a renewal of its media rights agreement with Fox and ESPN.

Each school will receive $31.66 million over the course of the six-year deal, which begins in the summer of 2025 — after Texas and Oklahoma have left for the SEC.

The agreement, reached more than a year before the Big 12’s formal negotiating window was set to open, has a two-pronged impact on the Pac-12:

— It lowered the revenue floor.

Prior to that point, there had only been a valuation ceiling in the college sports media marketplace: The Big Ten’s landmark agreement, which was signed in August and pays a minimum of $62.5 million per school.

As they worked toward an agreement with network partners, Kliavkoff and his consultants attempted to use the Big Ten’s deal as leverage to drive up the value of Pac-12 inventory.

Once the Big 12 renewed with ESPN and Fox, the companies negotiating with the Pac-12 were able to use the $31.66 million for each Big 12 school to drive down the price.

Essentially, they can tell Kliavkoff: “We’d like to do business with you. But without USC and UCLA, you’re closer in value to the Big 12 than you are to the Big Ten. So let’s start the bidding in the low $30 millions.”

— It created an opportunity.

With the Big 12 agreeing to renew its deals with ESPN and Fox, thereby removing itself from the marketplace, the Pac-12 stands alone.

It is the only Power Five conference with media rights available until the 2030s.

Everyone else is locked up:

The ACC’s deal with ESPN expires in 2036.

The SEC’s deal with ESPN expires in 2034.

The Big 12’s deal with ESPN and Fox expires in 2031.

And the Big Ten’s deal with Fox, NBC and CBS expires in 2030.

“No rush, and no need for a rush,” Kliavkoff said when asked about the timing of a Pac-12 deal.

“We are the last Power Five conference with our rights available for the next eight years, so we’re in a good position and don’t feel any sense of urgency.”

Clearly, there is an inventory shortage.

If Amazon or Apple or Turner or any other newcomer wants to take the Power Five plunge during the remainder of this decade, there is only one conference with rights available.

Can the Pac-12 take maximum advantage?

We should know early in 2023.

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*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.


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