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ACC commissioner says conference network could take years to launch

It will take the ACC and its media partner, ESPN, anywhere from two to four years to analyze whether to start a league-branded channel. That’s what ACC Commissioner John Swofford said today on ESPN 99.9 FM in Raleigh.

SportsBusiness Journal reported that live game rights owned by Raycom Sports and Fox Sports Net could be an obstacle for the ACC and ESPN. Raycom sublicenses 31 football games and 60 men’s basketball games each year through 2027, and Fox buys 17 of those football games and 25 of the basketball games for its regional sports networks.
When asked specifically about the ACC rights currently owned by Raycom and FSN, Swofford said, “There are a number of things that will go into the analysis of whether to start a channel. We’ll spend the next two or three or four years analyzing this with ESPN to see if this is a viable business venture for them and for us.”

Swofford also reminded that the “SEC was in discussions about three years before reaching a decision” to start a channel, which launches in August 2014. “The great thing moving forward with our 15-member league is that we’ll have more television sets, more wired households and a greater population in our footprint than any other conference,” he said. “That bodes well for everything from television to recruiting.”

Buying back those games from FSN is not easy because those regional networks need live game content. ESPN and the SEC were unsuccessful in trying to buy back games from FSN for the SEC Network. But FSN’s package of SEC games runs through the 2014 season only and will not extend beyond that.
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