I’m a Pac-12 football fan and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News is one of the best reporters on the subject, along with Oregon-based indie writer John Canzano. Today, Wilner writes that he thinks Apple’s the most likely buyer for the bulk of the conference’s football inventory beginning in the fall of 2024:
ESPN licenses 22 regular-season games from the Pac-12 under the terms of the agreement signed in 2011. We expect the number in the next contract to be approximately the same. Our favorite for the other 50-something games that currently air on the Fox and Pac-12 Networks? That would be Apple, with its growing interest in streaming live sports. And don’t discount the potential for a third media partner — perhaps it’s Amazon, Fox or NBC (for streaming on Peacock) — to grab a small package of Pac-12 games.
Apple’s got a couple of MLB games every week, and every single MLS game, but it hasn’t yet made a deal for (American) football. With the NFL’s contracts and pretty much every other college football conference’s TV deals locked up for a while, this may be Apple’s best chance to be a part of America’s top sport. And while the Pac-12 is one of the smaller of the “Power 5” conferences, its western U.S. geography might be a good fit for Apple culturally.
Both Wilner and Canzano figure the Pac-12 rights will be announced sometime in the next three weeks.
—Linked by Jason Snell