Much like 16-team super-conferences, the idea of a Power 5 conference leaving terrestrial TV and cable behind for a streaming service has been a long rumored idea that has not come to fruition.
According to a report Monday from Sports Business Journal, the Pac-12 is in talks with multiple platforms in regards to its next TV contract.
“They said that they are very interested in learning more about the rights and learning more about the business to determine whether or not they’d be a viable partner in 2024,” Pac-12 Networks president Mark Shuken said. “They said that, on the surface, we look like a good partner to investigate.”
Apple TV+ was the only platform specifically named in the report, which stated Apple executives liked that the Pac-12’s San Francisco offices were just down the street from their Cupertino headquarters.
Shulken said the conference’s decision to pursue an equity sale last year built relationships with Silicon Valley that helped jumpstart these talks, which all boil back to the league’s decision to finance its own TV network in the early part of the previous decade. Because that bet came up snake eyes, and because the $3 billion deal the league signed with ESPN and Fox back in 2011 has now been passed, the league is now debating whether to double down on its gamble to go its own way in regards to its TV inventory.
While it’s entirely possible that the Pac-12’s presidents could decide the cost of leaving TV behind ($60 million per year per school?) would be beyond what an Apple or a Netflix would be willing to pay, the fact that they’re talking at all is a solid step in the digital direction.