ACC Exploring Financial Benefits Of Creating Conference Television Network
The ACC has formed a committee of ADs and hired Wasserman Media Group to “explore the financial benefits of launching its own conference network,” according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. While the ACC’s media rights are “tied up with ESPN for the next 15 years, that hasn’t stopped the conference from beginning the process of deciding whether such a channel is feasible.” It has not had “formal talks with ESPN, which would have to play a big role in any ACC channel since the network controls the league’s rights.” But ACC Commissioner John Swofford has “quietly been exploring a branded channel and began floating the idea for it in the fall, around the time that Notre Dame joined the league in all sports but football.” Such a move “potentially could allow the conference to keep up financially with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, which have all launched or are close to launching branded channels.” Univ. of Maryland administrators “cited the Big Ten Network as a main drawing card for its decision to leave the ACC for the Big Ten.” To start a channel, the ACC “believes that it needs something along the lines of 30 to 35 football games a year.” It also “wants the rights to re-air games.” It remains to be seen “how many basketball games the conference would seek for a channel.” It is also "expected that the ACC would roll its sponsorship and digital rights into one entity with the channel." Raycom currently "holds the ACC’s digital and corporate sponsor rights." Sources said that ESPN would be a “major voice in any channel launch," though it is "believed to be lukewarm on forming one.” The sources said that a reason for ESPN’s "reluctance to move forward is that it is preparing to launch an SEC channel in August 2014, which would make it difficult to launch an ACC channel in many of those same markets” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/14 issue).