Understandably, the ACC Network has been the talk of the sports world for the last several days. It’s a bold step forward for the conference and has real innovative qualities.
It’s been noticed around the country, not least of all in PAC-12 territory.
The PAC-12 Network has not done well and Commissioner Larry Scott has taken most of the heat.
However, he does have a strategy and it could work. But will it? And what is it?
Basically, it’s this: all the PAC-12 rights come up in 2024 with minimal competition. Scott hopes to be able to strike a massive deal then, if not with ESPN or Fox, then with someone else, perhaps Amazon.
That’s a bit risky in several ways.
First, that assumes that people are willing to continue to pay top dollar for sports rights. That may or may not be the case. Second, the PAC-12 hasn’t been particularly competitive in either basketball or football lately. Third, there may be more competition than they’re anticipating and fourth, the landscape for the newer companies - Netflix, Amazon, Disney/Hulu and Apple - are changing incredibly fast.
Obviously Disney owns Hulu and ESPN. The launch of Disney+ could hit Netflix very hard although as of now it appears that Disney isn’t planning on nearly as much content as Netflix has.
Apple is getting closer to its launch with only a handful of disclosed shows and a need for a lot of content. Would the PAC-12 work there? The first question is obvious: is it a closed shop, limited to Apple devices? Because as great as Apple’s stuff is, that severely limits your reach.
Scott seems fairly confident but not everyone is. Take Oregon A.D. Rob Mullens who thinks his conference is “drifting out of range.”
The jury is out of for now but this is a big deal whichever way it goes. Conceivably it could end with the PAC-12 imploding. What would that lead to?