Will the Pac-12 break up? Where each team would go if league disintegrates over media rights deal

The college landscape without the Pac-12 has become a storyline to watch, even though the breakup of the 107-year-old league is unlikely.

Industry sources are still predicting a media rights split between ESPN and Amazon in connection with the upcoming conference. However, in the same industry circles, the dissolution of Pac-12 is openly talked about as a possible repercussion if the league does not strike a new deal soon.

The fact that it could happen in these challenging times is enough to predict what that process might look like.

Multiple sources tell CBS Sports that the league is struggling to meet the desired value for its 10-team league (sub-$400 million a year, $40 million per school) following the departure of USC and UCLA to the big ten.

The most compelling reason: As it stands, the Pac-12 game list is not broadcast, line-in, or streaming. must is at the moment.

Not without USC and UCLA. Not with the league is the eighth month after the loss of two of its flagships. And not for the fact that 3.5 months have passed since the Pac-12 was bypassed the “Big 12”.

The Big Ten now covers the three major broadcast networks (CBS, Fox, NBC) from coast to coast. ESPN went all-in on the SEC with an exclusive deal that included a lucrative 3:30 pm ET window on Saturdays, as well as a prime-time slot with some of the most popular inventory in sports. ACC is locked until 2036 with a stable number that is expected to rise as the ACC network continues to lose revenue. The Big Twelve have bet on Fox and ESPN and hope to get bigger with expansion.

There is a finite amount any potential rights holder is willing to pay for a damaged conference, which is the latest among the Power Five to strike a new media rights deal. Perhaps this was the hidden intention of the recent conference. statement by its presidents – soothe fears.

Now consider what has affected Pac-12 and some of its potential members since the beginning of the year:

  • The league found that owes media partner $50 million.
  • Disney (ESPN’s parent company) has announced it will lay off 7,000 employees as part of a restructuring.
  • Amazon recently laid off 6% of its workforce (18,000 people worldwide).
  • Alphabet (the parent company of Google) has cut 12,000 jobs.

Pac-12 may have just waited too long to make a deal that makes financial sense for some of its members. This was previously reported by CBS Sports. Pac-12 may have to dedicate himself to expansion to maximize the value of the transaction.

Most of the other Power Five games are based on still-reliable linear platforms (broadcast, cable). Linear continues to significantly outperform streaming. Consider that in the 2022 season, the SEC and the Big Ten hosted a total of 50 conferences that ranked in the top seven weekly TV ratings.

According to, Pac-12 had one such game that didn’t feature USC or UCLA.

When the Big 12 similarly lost two of its flagship programs, the league took drastic action to expand under then commissioner Bob Boulsby. Under new commissioner Brett Jormark, the Big 12 outpaced the Pac-12. new media rights deal.

Pac-12 has reached a point where the best broadcast windows on the best networks are filled with premium content from other conferences, while streaming remains untested at home. Did the league just overestimate itself?

With all of that in mind, here’s a step-by-step look at what happens if Pac-12 is disbanded.

Why will Pac-12 fall apart?

In fact, current members will be quite nervous about the lack of value returned to them in a media rights deal, coupled with the dissipation of attention and perceived prominence of their universities and athletic programs.

How Pac-12 games will be seen by a wide audience if they are not on TV or in the best showcases that fill up quickly. If well over half of future Pac-12 games are broadcast, as CBS Sports previously reported, that’s a bad sign. Again, linear is still the delivery system of choice for broadcast sports.

On streaming media, Pac-12 would lose significant publicity. This means, for starters, no hiring and difficulty in hiring the best coaches if their games are not widely available.

If individual or collective Pac-12 schools feel they can make more money and get more exposure at another Power Five conference, they have no choice but to look after the long-term financial security of their universities and athletic departments. Football (and basketball) media rights largely fund the program’s remaining sports.

Where will the Pac-12 teams go?

If Pac-12 eventually disbands, most – but not all – of its members will find the Power Five waiting at home. This will start another round of expansion and may lead to further changes in the future.

school Four corners

Arizona, the states of Arizona, Colorado, and Utah have been targets of the Big 12 in one form or another since USC and UCLA announced plans to leave the Big 10 last summer.

This interest has increased significantly as the Pac-12 has become even more vulnerable. Yorkmark wants to have a membership in the Pacific Time Zone. This would make the G12 the only conference to feature representatives from all four time zones.

The addition of the Four Corners Schools will also make the Big 12 the third 16-member conference to join the SEC and Big Ten.

  • Arizona will solidify the Big 12’s basketball reputation. (Gonzaga is treated as a basketball-only member.)
  • The state of Arizona is one of the largest sleeping giants in the country, playing in the country’s 11th largest market (near Phoenix).
  • Colorado is a former Big 12 member who achieved the most league success in the old Big Eight. Deion Sanders of CU is a walking and talking head of marketing. Whatever he does, it can’t hurt the audience.
  • Utah (along with Oregon) is arguably the strongest remaining Pac-12 football program. This will also give BYU a travel partner.

Essentially, adding these four schools will create more Big 12 content in more time slots. Such an expansion may reflect what the Pac-12 is currently worth. If the Big 12 expands, his contract states that new teams will receive 63% pro rata income from ESPN (roughly $20 million a year). If that’s what’s causing these schools to move, what does that say about Pac-12’s current value?

Oregon and Washington

Assuming Four Corners pulls ahead, this will lead to a decision to become the two largest affordable brands in the country. The key word is “available” because when the league collapses around it, Oregon and Washington will have options. And their best bet would probably be the Big Ten.

The schools are academically aligned with the Big Ten. They will join USC and UCLA in easing Big Ten travel challenges for all four schools by playing more games closer to home.

Even if Pac-12 stays together, how soon will Oregon and Washington start wandering? Nike founder and Oregon benefactor Phil Knight looked after the Ducks. from the very beginning of the process. Last fall, CBS Sports confirmed Washington’s interest in the Big Ten, which at the time was considered significant if the Pac-12 didn’t work.

Outgoing Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren is known to be wanted. further expansion of the conference aiming to add these two schools, as well as Stanford and California. The presidents and athletic directors of the Big Ten met with strong opposition, but with the Pac-12 potentially sealing its own fate, the Big Ten will not be seen as a split in the league this time around, avoiding a possible costly litigation. (However, this time around, the Big Ten will likely be reluctant to participate in Stanford and California.)

The 18-team league will make the Big Ten the largest in college football history. This will create serious scheduling issues and result in the abandonment of existing rights holders who will be asked to pay more. Perhaps a streaming service will be involved to defer expenses.

Best guess: Oregon and Washington will get less than a full share of the Big Ten (about $75). million per school starting in 2024), at least initially, to become part of the richest conference in the country.

last four

Out of this reversal arises the conference of remnants. Think of Pac-12—or whatever it was then called—trying to get ahead with the four remaining schools (California, Oregon, Stanford, Washington) while the rest of the conference fills up with Mountain West programs. (Maybe in the other direction as well.)

San Diego State and SMU are already being considered expansion candidates if Pac-12 survives, so write them down so there are six teams in the hybrid league. A discussion in the corner might show a new Pac-12 that looks like this:

  • Kal
  • Boise State
  • fresno state
  • Oregon
  • San Diego State
  • SMU
  • Stanford
  • Washington state

This lineup would reduce Power Five to Power Four, creating consequences beyond Pac-12 itself.

Best Chance Pac-12

The way out of this mess is a 12-team league that includes San Diego State and SMU, which seems to be of great value to potential rights holders.

Pac-12 prepared for such an expansion in an attempt to achieve its goals. SDSU again gives Pac-12 a presence in Southern California. SMU gives the league what it never had: midday ET games and a recruiting staging area in Texas. We detail Benefits of the State of San Diego.

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