CRAWFORD | ACC appears set to announce new ACC Network, to launch in 2019
The long-discussed ACC Network may finally be a reality, according to multiple reports Monday night.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The most-asked question to Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford in recent years is one he should soon be able to answer: What’s going on with the proposed ACC Network.
Finally, when Swofford meets with the media in Charlotte Thursday morning, he should be able to announce that the project is a go.
League sources told ESPN — and they should be good sources, since ESPN is backing the enterprise — that the ACC will announce an ACC Network that will launch by August of 2019.
The deal has been six years in the making. The ACC in 2010 entered a deal with ESPN that runs through 2027, but this one sets up an ACC cable channel and some innovative components that deliver content directly to the Internet. It’s also expected to deliver more revenue to ACC schools.
At the time of that deal, the ACC elected not ot pursue its own cable channel in order to preserve a syndication agreement with Raycom television. Games to local rights holders aired on Raycom properties — like WAVE-3 in Louisville — which won a battle for local rights fees for U of L sports when it teamed with a competitor — WHAS Television — to get them.
With ESPN tightening its grip on ACC inventory, local television rights may become a thing of the past.
The University of Louisville and other ACC schools have been positioning themselves for the requirements of producing more television content for several years. When it moved to the ACC, U of L was required to upgrade its production truck technology and even built its own sports studio on the south side of Lynn Soccer Stadium, with windows that look out onto Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
According to a story by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, the new ACC-ESPN deal is for 20 years. To accomplish it, the ACC extended the grant of rights deal with its member schools an additional nine years, through 2035-36.
That same deal also extended Notre Dame’s contract with the league in all sports except football, and obligates to join the ACC if it decides to change its independent status during the next 20 years.
An ESPN spokesman refused to comment to ESPN.com for the story. The ACC says Swofford will provide an update Thursday in Charlotte.
The deal is expected to ramp up with a digital-only platform called ACC Network Plus, which Sports Business Journal reports will launch next month.
Already, there's speculation that the move could lead the ACC to move to a nine-game football schedule, to increase inventory for its television network. Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey has led discussions on going to a 20-game basketball schedule, as well.
An ACC spokesman said that Swofford would provide any updates he could at his scheduled meeting with the media on Thursday during ACC Football Media Days.
Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.