SBD/May 20, 2013/Media

Creation Of ACC-Branded Television Network Faces Roadblock In Rights Issue

A league-branded channel is considered vital to the ACC's financial future.
Viewers should not "expect an ACC-branded TV channel to be launched any time soon," according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN needs to "control the conference’s syndicated rights to launch a channel," but those rights are "tied up until 2027 through deals with Raycom and Fox Sports Net." Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures co-Founder & CEO Chris Bevilacqua said, “There’s no way an ACC network co-exists with a syndicated model." Sources said that at the conference's annual spring meetings last week, there was "much more discussion about the prospects for a channel outside the meeting rooms than there was inside." The channel "hardly came up, even though" ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus and ESPNU Senior Dir of Programming Dan Margulis "attended the meetings, as they typically do." ESPN and Raycom the week before "engaged in meetings at the Charlotte offices of ESPN Regional Television, but those talks centered on how to program new member Notre Dame, not how to work together on a channel." Smith & Ourand report a league-branded channel is "considered vital to the conference’s financial future." Sources said that there is "not a rush to put together an ACC channel, and that it likely would be 2016 or 2017 before one would launch, if then." ESPN, if it "says no to a channel, would increase its compensation to the ACC, pushing the per-school average to close to $20 million." Even if the ACC is "able to buy back" digital and corporate sponsorship rights as well as rights to live football and men's basketball games from Raycom, "a second roadblock remains." Raycom "sublicensed 17 of those football games and 25 of those basketball games to Fox, which carries the games on its regional sports networks throughout the ACC footprint" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/20 issue).
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