Report: ACC, Pac-12 exploring partnership that could boost TV revenues for both

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The ACC and the Pac-12 are kicking the tires on the idea of forming an alliance that could get the two conferences at least closer in terms of TV money to their rivals in the SEC and Big Ten.

The specifics, according to a report late Wednesday by Sports Illustrated writers Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde, would have the two conferences pitching to ESPN a proposal to use the ESPN-owned ACC Network to broadcast Pac-12 games to subscribers on the West Coast.

The benefits, per Dellenger and Forde: the ACC and the remaining Pac-12 members would be in line to get more TV revenues, and ESPN would get a piece of the Pac-12’s football TV inventory.

Such an arrangement could also very well be a lifeline for the Pac-12, which new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark is said to be interested in trying to raid for at least the remaining members of the league’s South Division – Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.

One Pac-12 source cited in the SI article disputed reports that there were “serious” talks ongoing between remaining Pac-12 schools and the Big 12.

Dellenger and Forde emphasized in their reporting that the talks between the ACC and Pac-12 are in the very early stages, meaning the usual due diligence would have to be done to flesh out how both sides would benefit in the end.

I wouldn’t expect any developments on any of this for some time, perhaps into the summer of 2023.

Keep in mind that USC, UCLA and the Big Ten had reportedly been working quietly behind the scenes for several months before last week’s surprise news connecting the three came down.

It was also about this time last year that Texas and Oklahoma shocked the college football world with the announcement of their intentions to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC.

As with those deals, there’s a good bit of work on the numbers to get everybody on the same page with this one reported to be in the works between the ACC and Pac-12.

No one is going to want to act until everyone is satisfied that they’re all working off the same set of numbers.

Another key question, aside from getting the numbers to add up, would be if a deal of this nature would give the ACC an out from its current ESPN deal, which is locked in through 2036, and is a hindrance for league members, who are currently getting roughly $25 million less per school from the conference’s TV deal than their peers in the Big Ten and SEC are getting from their conference TV deals.

A new TV deal seems to be a necessity for the ACC, but a premature end to the current arrangement could at the same time leave the ACC vulnerable to possible defections, with Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC and Virginia expected by some to draw interest from the SEC and Big Ten, if indeed those leagues would be looking to expand beyond their ever-expanding footprints.

Flip side, if the SEC and Big Ten aren’t looking to expand any more, which may very well be the case, an ACC/Pac-12 partnership could, down the line, meld the two into a sort of third superconference, with footholds on both coasts.

But that’s getting way, way ahead of where we are now.

Chris Graham

I write books, two on UVA basketball, one on pro wrestling, one on politics, which is getting to be like pro wrestling more and more each day. I've finished three marathons, but I'm over that. Oh, and I'm a progressive who voted for Biden, but I'm over that, too. (We need somebody else in 2024!) Want to reach me? Try [email protected]