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Report: Amazon mulls college football options as Pac-12 courts streaming services

Tech giant’s decision could influence any future NCAA conference realignment.

22 September 2022 Steve McCaskill

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  • Pac-12 broadcast deal expires in 2024
  • Big Ten recently signed US$7bn rights contracts with CBS, Fox and NBC

Amazon could play a major role in any future realignment of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), with reports suggesting the technology giant is mulling its options when it comes to acquiring college football rights.

CBS says Amazon is eager to add college football to its slate of programming and the Pac-12, whose 12-year US$3 billion deals with Fox and ESPN expire in 2024, is a potential candidate.

The conference is said to be actively courting a streaming platform to bid for its rights, hoping the lure of being a senior broadcast partner will prove attractive.

However, by then, two of the Pac-12’s biggest teams, the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will have moved to the rival Big Ten.

The Big Ten hopes to encourage further defections from the Pac-12 to strengthen its position as one of college football’s ‘super conferences’ and to increase the number of games it can offer broadcasters, increasing revenues.

However, the Big Ten has just signed off on a US$7 billion arrangement with CBS, Fox and NBC which would mean its biggest matches would be unavailable for a new entrant like Amazon for another decade – limiting the appeal of the additional inventory.

Meanwhile, some existing Big Ten teams reportedly have concerns that the majority of their matches would not be shown on traditional linear television should a streamer enter the fray. Both Apple and Amazon are believed to have thrown their hat into the ring for the Big Ten but ultimately failed.

Amazon could also go for the rights to the Big 12, which has reportedly opened negotiations for its rights from 2025. However, ESPN, which missed out on the Big Ten, is likely to be an aggressive bidder.

The suggestion is that Amazon could be more interested in securing the best games from one conference rather than minor games from a bigger conference – a stance that could discourage or influence further realignment in the short to medium term. The company could also encounter less resistance from colleges who fear a loss of visibility by moving to a streaming service if its National Football League (NFL) coverage achieves solid ratings.


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