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.
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.
Pac-12 media rights situation is ripe for a third party to facilitate a deal with a major network/platform
Desperation + bargain + ability to essentially purchase a conference
— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) February 10, 2023
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
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.
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.”
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.