- Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah and Washington will leave in 2024
- Apple TV deal reportedly worth minimum US$23m to each team per season
The Pac-12 college athletic conference faces an uncertain future following the departure of five more members unconvinced by a proposed broadcast partnership with Apple.
Arizona, Arizona State and Utah will leave for the Big-12 at the end of the 2023 season, while Washington and Oregon State will transfer to the Big Ten at the same juncture.
The teams join an exodus sparked by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California’s (USC) decision to join the Big Ten and continued by Colorado’s announcement it would move to the Big 12 last week. The Pac-12 now faces starting its 2024 campaign with just four schools and without a television deal.
The conference’s current 12-year, US$3 billion rights pact with Fox and ESPN is set to expire in 2024, leaving the Pac-12 as the only ‘power five’ conference without a long-term deal. The conference opened talks for its next media contract last July following the two Californian schools’ defections but was only able to present proposals to members last week.
According to The Athletic, Apple offered a five-year deal worth US$23 million to each school annually, with additional revenues if certain subscriber targets were hit. However, it is reported several schools had expected to be presented with a more traditional alternative and feared a loss of exposure if games went entirely behind a paywall.
The remaining Pac-12 schools are California, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State.
Before the departure of UCLA and USC, the Pac-12 was optimistic of doubling the value of its television deals. Losing two key schools in the Los Angeles market made this original ambition impossible, while rival conferences have leapfrogged the Pac-12 to secure deals that limit the ability of major networks to allocate significant revenue and airtime.
With the likes of ESPN and Fox out of the picture, the Pac-12 had to be creative – hence the proposal from Apple. However, eschewing broadcast television entirely would mean a dramatic loss in exposure for the Pac-12 which could hinder its ambitions of remaining one of the biggest conferences in college football – even if streaming is now a mainstream proposition.
With guaranteed revenues lower than expected and fearing a loss of exposure, the five schools in question have decided their futures lie elsewhere – even if they won’t benefit financially to the full extent as existing members of the Big Ten and Big 12.
While a potential partnership between the four remaining Pac-12 schools and the Mountain West conference has been touted, the ‘power five’ is now a ‘power four’, and the existence of a century-old conference is under threat.