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Source: ESPN Won’t Pay for Pac-12 Football

Category: College Sports Television News, Pac-12 Expansion & Realignment

Some interesting insights on the state of the Pac-12 football television contract negotiations. There are many who have felt that ESPN has had bottomless pockets and would lock up western conference to add to it’s stable. But apparently, that is not the case.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News takes a stab at the matter.

According to my sources, there is no indication that ESPN will be willing to pay what the Pac-12 wants or provide the exposure opportunities the Pac-12 is seeking. “ESPN has no place to put them,” one analyst said. Consider this: The Pac-12 is looking for a deal in the $140-150 million range, which, when combined with BCS and March Madness money, would push the league’s total revenue beyond the $170 million benchmark established by the CEOs last fall. (Until total revenue reaches $170 million annually, the league must make $2 million payments to USC and UCLA.) Now consider that ESPN signed a media rights deal with the ACC last summer that was worth about $155 million per year – except it wasn’t really $155 per year. Raycom, a regional network that has partnered with the ACC for decades, is paying about $30 million in sub-licensing fees. So in reality, ESPN paid $120 or so for the ACC, and there is no equivalent of Raycom in the Pac-12 footprint. Would ESPN pay $20-30 million more to be the primary Pac-12 right holders? No chance, according to industry sources.

If ESPN is out, one has to wonder if this will open the door for someone like Comcast/NBC, as FoxSports would be the only other option.

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  • This is all dependent on how much they want to put on the Pac-12 Network/Channel. I don’t think they know at this point.

  • Since Comcast works with the Mountain West on the mtn channel, a NBC Sports bid makes sense because Comcast could lock up the Pacific and Mountain markets while locking out ESPN.

  • This is taking a bit of a leap of faith. It all depends on how far other networks are willing to go. FOX would put the money into the Pac-12 Network. How much ESPN would have available after they make their selections is really anyone’s guess. My guess is that they would get less than what they get after the Big Ten Network if it comes down to that.


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