By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

Apple has proposed a subscription-based service for Pac-12 football and basketball broadcasts starting with next season and ESPN reports that the tech giant is the likely leader to win the conference’s TV rights. The sports network says Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff yesterday presented Apple’s proposal to the conference’s presidents and chancellors. The Pac-12 has struggled to find a new broadcasting partner after Fox and ESPN decided to opt out following this season.

“While several options were presented, the Apple streaming deal emerged as the likely leader at this point, bringing some clarity to a lengthy process that frustrated many within the league and ultimately played a role in Colorado’s decision last week to join the Big 12. Monetary and exposure questions still loom, though, and outside pressure from the Big 12 remains,” ESPN says, adding that the decision is complicated by reports that Arizona, Arizona State and Utah are considering leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big 12.

If Apple wins, it would be the third major sports rights deal for the company’s Apple TV+ streaming service which now offers exclusive Friday MLB doubleheaders and the MLS Season Pass package. While Apple failed to land the NFL Sunday Ticket last year, losing to Google, the company still sees sports as a powerful weapon to lure visitors to its site. However, it remains to be seen if football fans will pay a separate fee for the Pac-12 games which have been available via pay TV subscriptions for years. The Pac-12 could lose stature as a conference if game viewership declined significantly from current levels.

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— Phillip Swann