The Pac-12’s media rights negotiations won’t be completed before the New Year, commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday while indicating there is “no rush” for a resolution.
The future of the conference depends on the outcome of the negotiations, which began in July after USC and UCLA announced their departures for the Big Ten.
— The Big Ten has agreed to a seven-year deal, beginning in 2023, that’s estimated to carry a minimum valuation of $62.5 million per school per year.
— The Big 12 has renewed its media contracts with longtime partners ESPN and Fox for a reported $31.7 million per school starting in 2025.
— The University of California Board of Regents is reviewing UCLA’s entry into the Big Ten. A final decision from the governing board, which has the authority to rescind the move, is expected Dec. 14.
If the Bruins are forced to remain in the Pac-12, which is unlikely, the dynamics of the media negotiations could change drastically.
Asked about the timing of a media deal, Kliavkoff said: “I would not expect an announcement in the balance of this calendar year.”
He added that the 10 schools “remain committed to each other.”
The conference is negotiating with its current partners, Fox and ESPN, and with a group of newcomers to the college football media space, including Amazon.
Because rights to the Big Ten and Big 12 have been locked up into the 2030s, the Pac-12 stands as the only Power Five conference with football inventory available on the market through the remainder of the decade.
Once a media deal is reached, Kliavkoff said, he will take the proposal to the university presidents and ask them to sign a grant-of-rights agreement binding their media revenue to the conference.
“I don’t anticipate any issues,” he said.
Only then would the conference explore expansion options.
All in all, the future shape and structure of the Pac-12 could take several more months to resolve.
Kliavkoff’s remarks, along with those from Merton Hanks, the executive associate commissioner for football operations, came in advance of the Pac-12 championship game Friday in Las Vegas.
USC is poised for a playoff berth if the fourth-ranked Trojans defeat Utah.
“USC deserves everything they’re getting,” Kliavkoff said, referencing the school’s massive investment in coach Lincoln Riley and his staff. He added that the conference is “incredibly proud” of USC’s success.
Other notable comments from Kliavkoff and Hanks:
— When asked about football officiating, Kliavkoff differentiated between judgment calls and procedural errors. He called the latter, which included a missed down in the Oregon-Washington State game, “unacceptable.” Hanks said the conference “will be aggressive” in rectifying the issue.
— Kliavkoff is “thrilled” that the College Football Playoff will expand in the 2024 season. News of the accelerated start date came Thursday morning. Early expansion is critical for the Pac-12, which will be without the Los Angeles schools that season.
— Average TV viewership of Pac-12 games on Fox, ABC and ESPN is up 18 percent year-over-year, Kliavkoff said.
— The conference has extended its agreement to hold the championship game in Las Vegas through the 2023 season.
— The USC-Utah game on Friday night is sold out.
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