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John Ourand: Pac-12 Not a ‘Need or Must-Have’ for ESPN

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Earlier this week, SBJ’s John Ourand and New York Post’s Andrew Marchand discussed some of the latest news coming out of the Pac-12’s media rights situation on “The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast.”

Last week, The Athletic reported that The CW had pulled up a seat to the negotiating table, to which CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd refuted, saying that the network was only interested in discussing a “small package” of games.

Ourand also refuted the reports but even went a step further in an excerpt from the podcast. Here’s a look at the duo’s discussion of the latest from the Pac-12.

 

“The CW did a deal with LIV Golf and they’re talking to everybody,” Ourand said of The CW’s talks with the Pac-12. “It was a talk that was almost an informational talk, I would never classify it as a negotiation. To say that it’s unlikely, I think you could put the word, ‘extremely,’ in front of unlikely. [A deal between The CW and the Pac-12] is almost certain not to happen.

“There’s been a timeline that’s been offered where we’ve bashed through deadlines. It’s almost a sense of urgency that they need to get the deal done. But I can tell you that with the networks that are buying it, they don’t feel that urgency.”

Marchand interjects here, asking, “Wait, which networks are buying it though?”

“That’s what we have to figure out,” Ourand answered. “They are still talking to ESPN, they’re still talking to FOX, but the money isn’t exactly where they want it to be. These networks don’t feel that urgency. If you look back at the Big Ten, they did their blockbuster deal right before football season. So there’s a cadence and timing that [the networks] have and they’re not jumping to the sense of urgency that Pac-12 feels, like, ‘we’ve got to get this done and lock our schools in and move forward’.”

 

“But do they need it,” Marchand asks, “because ESPN filled up a lot of those windows with the Big 12.”

“I don’t think [the Pac-12 deal] is a need or a must-have for ESPN,” Ourand says. “They’re still around if the price comes down. It’s the whole price-value equation. If the price is good, all of a sudden…”

“But is that good for the conference,” Marchand asks. “We’re not taking sides on this. There’s like this Pac-12/Big 12 war online, so, we’re just reporting. I was told to watch Colorado, so, I’m just going to put that out there. Obviously, the four corner schools have been ones to watch as you push these deals back.

“The CW? That’s not a good look for the Pac-12. When you make a deal, you always have to think, ‘What’s the next deal?’ If you’re doing a CW deal what does that mean? The Big 12, Big Ten, and ACC, they’re all going to have relationships with ESPN, FOX, CBS, and NBC. You’re sitting out there with The CW. How do you get better and do people leave? Then, talking about the money, there’s probably a price [for ESPN], but is that a good price for the Pac-12? Especially when it’s less than they could’ve gotten.”

 

“The question is, is that deal, and that timeline going to be good enough to keep the universities placated,” Ourand says.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I will say this in summary. The Pac-12 should’ve taken its original offer from ESPN and run with it. Instead, it took its inventory into a flooded market and found all the potential buyers satiated, leaving them to tread water until a life boat comes along. The problem is, there doesn’t appear to be a boat big enough for everyone to stay, leaving some schools to look out for themselves to survive. That’s why schools like Colorado and Arizona are looking at their options, and as time moves on and the Pac-12 doesn’t have a deal, the morel likely it becomes that someone will jump, and the chaos will ensue shortly after

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