For fans of the Atlantic Coast Conference, an ACC Network remains a white whale. As the SEC Network and Big Ten Network rake in piles of cash for their respective conference members, ACC fans wonder “Where’s our network?”
After all, the ACC has full coverage of the East Coast, from Massachusetts to South Florida, the best overall Olympic sports programs in the country, and a TV-friendly member (for everything but football) in Notre Dame. So what’s the holdup?
It’s a complex issue, too deep to get into here. And frankly, I personally don’t have a deep enough understanding to explain all the ins and outs of why the ACC doesn’t have a network already.
But an ACC Network remains an important piece to help close, or perhaps more accurately limit, the growing revenue gap between the ACC, the SEC, and the Big Ten. (Ten SEC schools raked in over $100 million in athletics revenue in 2014-15; eight Big Ten schools did; only two ACC schools, Florida State and Louisville did … three if you count Notre Dame.)
Not to mention, ACC fans just want to be able to watch more ACC sports, without having to stream them via the ESPN app or Watch ESPN.
For people like me, who don’t follow this stuff closely, we wonder (1) if an ACC Network is close; (2) if an ACC Network is far off; or (3) if an ACC Network is never going to happen. Theories, opinions, and data abound for all three possibilities.
But last night, Tim Brando of FoxSports, a respected broadcaster who has announced many an ACC game for Raycom, started making some very interesting tweets. We’re going to embed screen caps, because you just never know when tweets will disappear.
Here’s what started it:
Interesting … Tim is telling us that an ACCN announcement might come soon (good for the ACC), and he appears to be saying that Notre Dame might be in play for the Big Ten (not good).
It appears that Brando then got a phone call about the Notre Dame portion of his tweet, because he later issued this series of corrective — and equally interesting — tweets:
“The ultimate source” … might that be John Swofford, Tim?
Please go on!
No apology necessary, Tim … we appreciate the information you bring to the table.
Our next step is admittedly a little iffy … we’re going to delve into message board rumor. Whereas Brando is an experienced, connected broadcaster, our next source is … not. But what he says makes sense and is interesting.
From a post on our Conference Realignment Board (which is one of the finest sports message boards on the Internet, if we may say so ourselves) by “ColumbusHokie”:
Subject: I think most of us are about to be very happy.
I have posted info from a friend of mine on one other occasion. When things were shaking out with the coaching search I shared what he told me and it turned out to be right on the money. What I am about to share is not from me but a friend of mine with WVU. If he’s wrong, he’s wrong but he is not trying to be manipulative or sensationalistic.
The ACC is about to announce a network through ESPN. It will be a dedicated channel similar to the SEC network though no more details on that. Should be announced in the next 8 weeks. ND is in play to join the ACC for football and much closer than many imagine. Again, not my thoughts but from a reliable place. We shall see.
The ACC is in no danger of being raided by the B1G or Big 12. Tim Brando got wind of it last night but was wrong about ND and the B1G, Swofford shut him up pretty quickly with details of ND’s contract with the ACC to join only the ACC if they fully join a conference.
A couple weeks ago I had a moment of weakness where I doubted the ACC and thought that ESPN was going to leave us out in the cold. I was wrong, I apologize.
The demographics for the ACC are stellar and getting better over time as population shifts but stays east. ESPN knows this, the B1G knows this and so does everyone else involved at a high level. The ACC has the best content available for a network due to our strong olympic sports and the best locations in which to broadcast. No other conference comes close to our depth across the board in sports like soccer, baseball, swimming and diving, tennis etc. Pac 12 is close but not really our competition. These will make the network much more than replays of football games and talk radio shows. I don’t know what took them so long (unless they were negotiating with ND) but it should be a great channel. I know I am looking forward to following our other sports much more closely.
Again, not my thoughts but I wanted to share what I heard with you guys.
Posted: 05/04/2016 at 09:42AM by ColumbusHokie
The reason I say this is “very interesting” is that ColumbusHokie pegs the time frame as “the next 8 weeks.”
That’s on or about July 1st. What happens on July 1st? Something very important: if ESPN doesn’t launch an ACC Network by then, it will owe the ACC a $45 million payment.
Just a quick post before the game tonight… our good friend, @_EthanMoore at @LvilleSprtsLivehosted @WesDurham (from @RaycomSports) on their radio show this week – you can hear the Louisville Sports Live radio show on @939TheVille.
Wes Durham told the Louisville Sports Live crew that there is apparently a clause in ESPN’s contract with the ACC that requires ESPN to provide $45 million dollars to the ACC if a network is not established by July 1, 2016.
If you can’t sort through Twitter-speak, that boils down to: Wes Durham of Raycom says that ESPN owes the ACC $45 million if ESPN doesn’t launch an ACC Network by about, oh, eight weeks from now.
If you’re ESPN, what would you rather do: pay the ACC $45 million for nothing, or get that network launched and start making some money?
What you’ve just been fed is a trail of bread crumbs from a couple of known, respected people with Raycom/ACC ties (Tim Brando and Wes Durham) and one not-so-well-known TSL message board poster (ColumbusHokie).
Does the trail of bread crumbs lead to a big old loaf of cash for the ACC, in the form of an ACC Network finally coming to fruition? One can only hope. Stay tuned.
For outstanding information and discussion on this and many higher-level topics affecting college sports, please check out our Conference Realignment Board.