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The Pac-12 Is Poised To Make History With Amazon Prime Video. But Are The Fans Ready To Stream? 

The Pac-12 might just surprise college sports with their media partners as ESPN & Amazon Prime will cover the conference games.

WASHINGTON — One of college football’s most important media deals is being crafted by the Pac-12 conference commissioner George Kliavkoff, and he is hoping that Amazon Prime Video is willing to help his league make history while also proving a point. Will sports fans watch a streaming service and embrace Amazon as the home of Pac-12 athletics?

The smart play here is to sell the Pac-12 Network to Amazon as part of the media deal. Let the streaming giant rebrand itself as the Prime Pac-12 Network and handle all the distribution The conference with Amazon at the helm finally the network could be successful.

ESPN will only take the Pac-12 After Dark package, as parent company Disney is looking to hold back spending for the NBA bid. So this is a clear win for Amazon and maybe another streaming service joining the group.

It is expected the deal with Amazon and ESPN will be  five or six years with a payout close to the $31.7 million per year per school pact signed recently by the Big 12. Maybe with a little luck they can even score a bit more with a little help from either Apple TV+ or YouTube.

USC Trojans defensive back Jacobe Covington, right, breaks up a pass to Utah Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid during the third quarter of the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 in Las Vegas, CA. WALLY SKALIJ/GETTY IMAGES

Some reports have Amazon only wanting a single game per week, but that makes no sense from a content and network standpoint. If all Amazon wanted is one football game a week, then why would the Pac-12 be adding San Diego State and SMU for inventory? 

So, at the very least the streaming giant is thinking about taking over the entire package so make it too easy to resist by making sure they own the Pac-12 Network.

Marie Donoghue, vice president, of Global Sports Video, Amazon is the key point person for the streamer on crafting a deal with the Pac-12. She spent 17 years as an executive at ESPN, so she clearly understands the value of college sports can be to any streaming network’s long-term portfolio.

A new PrimePac-12 Network could produce the 800 events per year presently done by the outlet an establishing Amazon as the only place to find all the sports from the Conference of Champions.  That allows Amazon to use its vast promotional arm to point subscribers to all things Pac-12 

Thursday Night Football trucks are seen with Amazon Prime signage prior to a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 22, 2022, in Cleveland, Ohio. NICK CAMMETT/GETTY IMAGES

When you look at the cost of running the Pac-12 Network the investment Amazon would be making is a low-risk and high-reward investment, There is a huge reduction in the cost of producing events because of how their state-of-the-art production center works.

Each member campus is pre-wired with fiber optic cable allowing the Pac -12 Network to produce multiple events from the broadcast center without the need for multiple crews and remote trucks. The network producers, directors, and even talent calling the events don’t need to travel to the games

Donoghue and her team are constantly looking for challenges, and they have one in being the first streamer to have the tier one rights to a Power 5 sports conference. If Amazon does take over the Pac-12 Network, they will have a content gold mine with so many outstanding men’s and women’s sports played at the highest level and the investment would be nowhere near the money just paid by Apple TV+ for their ten-year commitment to do all the Major League Soccer broadcasts with production starting from scratch


Proving doubters wrong is something Amazon loves to do – a case in point was landing NFL Thursday Night Football as an exclusive streaming-only service in an 11-year deal. They then added the team of producer Fred Gaudelli analyst Kirk Herbstreit and the legendary Al Michaels as the play-by-play host to show they were serious.


ALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – JANUARY 06: Utah gymnasts celebrate during a PAC-12 meet against LSU at Jon M. Huntsman Center on January 06, 2023, in Salt Lake City, Utah. ALEX GOODLETT/GETTY IMAGES

Amazon knows promotion, and they made it known they were in the NFL football business. The blue Prime Video logo was everywhere you looked online and in ad spots. 

Pac-12 fans long to hear Al Michaels on Thursday Night Football promoting “This Saturday on the Prime Pac-12 Network it will be Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffalos hosting Stanford, then Heisman Trophy candidates quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Washington facing Cam Rising and the defending Pac-12 champions from Utah highlighting a full day and night of action on your network for all things Pac -12.”

“The Pac-12 -Amazon Prime relationship is going to be a historic case because the conference is going direct to consumers on this,” says sports marketing expert Gary Pittman. “I think Amazon will want to take over the Pac -12 Network and that is what makes this deal work then we will see a game-changing move in how sports will be offered to fans.”

An Apple TV+ logo during a player interview after a game between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 08, 2022, in Anaheim, California. RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES

Don’t be surprised if Amazon gets another streaming partner-IF- they feel like there is too much content to handle, Apple TV+ and YouTube are loaded with Pac-12 grads who might want to help out.

Apple TV + sports boss James DeLorenzo has shown interest in the past in doing a deal both with the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.  But they just made history for themselves with the new ten-year pack with Major League Soccer.

Stanford grad Tim Katz is the head of YouTube Sports, and they just landed the NFL Sunday Ticket deal long-term. Could they still be interested in second and third-tier rights that come with the turnkey Pac-12 Network?

One last thing and that is despite saying they are out CBS and/or TNT may revisit the deal before the ink is dry. When comes to media no one is really out the deal until the ink is dry on a contract. 

The answers to all the questions will soon come as the Pac-12 media will soon be complete. The next question will be whether college sports fans are ready for the Pac-12 wherever it ends up streaming.






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