NCAA’s Pac-12 Conference Implodes After Schools Reject Apple Streaming Deal

The future of the 64-year-old Pac-12 Conference, a once dominant NCAA Division I level athletic conference comprising 24 sports, spearheaded by football and basketball, appears doomed after college athletic directors from the 12 schools in the western U.S. reportedly rejected a last-minute streaming video deal with Apple.

The deal, similar to Apple’s exclusive 10-year, $2.5 billion agreement with Major League Soccer, would have been outside the confines of Apple TV+ as a separate standalone streaming package. The financial terms reportedly would have been lower than the Pac-12’s current 12-year, $3 billion rights package with Fox Sports and ESPN, which expires in 2024.

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In an age of escalating live sports TV and streaming rights across the entire sports landscape, in college sports the Power 5 athletic conferences, which include the Big Ten in the Midwest, Southeastern Conference (SEC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Pac-12, and Big 12, have become embroiled in a tug-of-war between schools, players and media companies seeking to grab a greater fiscal share of the multi-billion dollar TV pie.

The Big Ten recently inked a new seven-year media rights agreement with Fox Sports, CBS Sports and NBC Sports for $7 billion that includes both linear TV and live streaming on Paramount+ and Peacock. The Big 12 signed a separate six-year TV deal with Fox Sports and ESPN worth $2.3 billion, which includes streaming on ESPN+.

ESPN (and ESPN+) and the SEC begin a new 10-year media rights deal in 2024 covering about 15 football and eight men’s basketball games annually.

The Pac-12’s University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) were the first to jump ship, announcing in 2022 that they would be departing to the Midwest-based Big 10 in 2024. That was followed by Oklahoma and Texas announced exit from the Big 12 to the SEC.

Late last week, the Pac-12’s University of Oregon and University of Washington announced their intentions of also moving to the Big 10, while Arizona State University, University of Arizona,  University of Colorado and University of Utah said they would be joining the Big 12.

That leaves Stanford, Washington State University, University of California at Berkeley, and Oregon State University as the remaining Pac-12 schools eyeing a significantly depleted conference in 2024.

Redbox Ups College Sports Outreach With Pac-12 Marketing Deal

College students love to stream music and videos. So Redbox, which operates a network of kiosks renting DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies, has reportedly inked a marketing campaign with the Pac-12 college sports conference targeting students, their parents, alumni and sports fans.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Under the multiyear campaign, Redbox, starting this year, become an official marketing partner with all 12 member schools, which include: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University.

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The disc rental service, which also operates an on-demand digital platform, becomes an official partner for all Pac-12 Championship events, in addition to home football and men’s basketball games, with event signage and marketing rights. The deal also includes Pac-12 Networks’ linear and digital networks.

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Redbox, for the past two years, has been the title sponsor of the Redbox Bowl (originally San Francisco Bowl) featuring schools from the Pac-12 and Big 10 conferences.

The deal comes as attendance at football games declines. Since the 2012 season, when the Pac-12 drew 53,679 fans, attendance has dropped nearly 14% to 46,176 fans in 2019.

While some observers might link drooping football attendance to the quality of play on the gridiron, AJ Maestas, CEO of Navigate Research, told The Mercury News that enhancing consumers’ experience at games would offset escalating ticket, concession and parking prices — while ignoring wins and losses on the playing field.

“Leveling the playing field with the home viewing experience, timely video board replays, mobile phone connectivity, better food and beverage experience — those are just a few examples of possible in-stadium improvements,” Maestas said.

Now add a Redbox movie rental to the experience.


Oregon Beats Michigan State in Low-Scoring Redbox Bowl

The Oregon Ducks Dec. 31 held off the Michigan State Spartans, 7-6, in the inaugural Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Oregon finished the season 9-4, while the Spartans finished 7-6.

The match-up featuring schools from the Pac-12 and Big Ten was marked by sloppy play, a faked Oregon punt that ended up as a sack, and a botched Spartans field-goal attempt, among other miscues.

The good news for Redbox was that the 17th edition of the former Foster Farms Bowl game featured the highest game attendance since 2011, with more than 30,000 tickets sold. Fans attending the game were given a special promo code for a free one-night movie rental.

The game was televised on the Fox broadcast network with a Spanish-language simulcast on Fox Deportes.