- USC and UCLA will join Big Ten in 2024
- Current deal is worth US$250 million a season
The Pac-12 is looking to bring forward negotiations for its next broadcast rights agreement following the defection of the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the Big Ten once the current deal expires in 2024.
At present, Fox Sports and ESPN share the college sport conference’s broadcast rights in a US$3 billion deal worth US$250 million a season.
The Pac-12 had hoped to double this figure for the next cycle to at least US$500 million a season, but this now looks unlikely given two of its biggest teams, both from Los Angeles, the second largest media market in the US, are departing.
With other schools also reportedly looking at leaving the now ten-team Pac-12, its board of directors seemingly wants to move quickly to discourage any further departures by giving its teams an idea of what life will be like financially without USC and UCLA in the picture
It is reported that up to six Pac-12 members are in discussions with the Big 12, while other conferences are seeking to take advantage of the situation. However, Pac-12 has briefed several US media outlets that it is not immediately concerned and that the remaining colleges are eager to stay together if possible.
The Pac-12’s board of directors have also agreed to explore potential expansion options to increase the number of teams.
USC and UCLA’s conference transfer is the latest shift in a college football world still stunned by Oklahoma and Texas’s decision to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) by 2025 last summer.
The fragmented world of collegiate athletics has become increasingly centralised since the introduction of the College Football Playoff in 2014 and some believe the ultimate end game is one or two ‘super conferences’ and an expanded post-season – just like the National Football League (NFL).
More regular matchups between the best and most popular teams would generate higher ratings for broadcasters and more revenues for the teams involved. These latest developments do much to separate the Big Ten and the SEC, the two richest conferences, from the rest of the pack and Apple is reportedly already interested in the former’s media rights.