The Pac-12 is betting on itself in its quest to find private equity for its conference network. The Sports Business Journal reports that the conference rejected a deal with ESPN that would have seen the World Wide Leader in Sports take over distribution of the Pac-12 Networks.
On the surface, it seems astounding the conference balked at the deal given the struggles that the Pac-12 has had getting its networks on most television platforms.
ESPN was asking for an extension of its broadcast rights with the conference. It wanted to see the deal extended into the 2030s.
Currently, the Pac-12’s media deals with ESPN and Fox are set to expire in 2024. The conference is betting on more digital outlets being involved in the next round of TV negotiations. That could drive up rights fees for anyone with inventory to sell.
The Pac-12 was also leery of giving full control of the Pac-12 Networks to ESPN. Such a deal would limit the return on the conference’s investment, and almost certainly prevent any potential payday for the conference in the future.