Ask any Pac-12 fan about the league’s TV contracts over the last decade and you will invariably hear some or all of the following complaints:

  • Late kickoff times
  • Six-day windows
  • The Pac-12 Network is impossible to find
  • The schools are falling further and further behind in revenue.

So, pretty much everything.

Second-year commissioner George Kliavkoff is facing immense pressure to improve the situation with the league’s new contracts beginning in 2024, especially after USC’s and UCLA’s announced exits for the Big Ten. With the Big 12 openly pining to add Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, he needs to land something that will pay more — preferably much more — than the Big 12’s new ESPN/Fox deal reportedly worth $31.6 million a year per school starting in 2025.

Multiple people with knowledge of the discussions have told The Athletic they believe the dollar range Kliavkoff has been seeking — believed to be north of $40 million per school — is unrealistic. But now, we may have a hint at his strategy.

And it’s a risky one.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand, the most plugged-in reporter out there when it comes to sports TV deals, recently put out his annual predictions for 2023. Here’s what he had to say about the Pac-12 (emphasis mine):

“ESPN will be prepared to split the Pac-12’s media rights with Amazon, but will not offer the conference significantly more than it pays for the Big 12. That will lead the Pac-12 to sell almost its entire media package to Amazon for a price that is slightly higher than what the Big 12 gets from ESPN and Fox. The Pac-12 will carve out a handful of prime-time football games that it then will sell to CBS.”