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Volume 25 No. 7
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ESPN's Skipper Tells John Swofford ACC Network Is "Full Speed Ahead" For '19 Launch

ACC Commissioner John Swofford in a memo to conference ADs wrote ESPN President John Skipper had given confirmation that the ACC Network launch is "full speed ahead," according to Andrew Bucholtz of AWFUL ANNOUNCING. The memo was posted on Twitter yesterday by North Carolina radio host David Glenn. Bucholtz wrote presuming Swofford’s comments "are true and Skipper has given him those assurances, it’s worth wondering why ESPN seems so committed to this particular idea when so much else is up in the air." From the outside, a linear ACC Net "appears to be anything but a sure success" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 5/3). Syracuse AD John Wildhack, who was previously ESPN Exec VP/Production & Programming, also said that the ACC Net is "on track to launch as planned." Wildhack said of ESPN's recent talent cuts, "It won't impact our deal with the ACC. Our deal runs through 2036. The ACC Network will launch as scheduled in 2019. I think ESPN will put all their muscle and support toward making sure the launch is a success because they are a partner and they have a vested interest in making sure the ACC Network is a financial success." Meanwhile, author James Andrew Miller on the "SI Media Podcast" last week said that he "doesn't think ESPN can commit" to the ACC Net as planned in '19. Miller: "I wouldn't count on it. I think that is part of the recalculation they are doing looking forward, in particular since that will be on the eve of these big rights deals we have been talking about" (SYRACUSE.com, 5/2).

MOVING RIGHT ALONG: In Tallahassee, Jim Henry noted Florida State "continues to prepare to be broadcast ready" for the ACC Net's scheduled launch in '19, and Seminole Productions will soon get $2M in "state-of-the-art upgrades that include two more control rooms." FSU AD Stan Wilcox believes that the conference net "will be successful." He said, “ESPN has a lot of really intelligent individuals who have been monitoring the landscape of this cord-cutting for some time now. And they already have plans in place as to how they’re going to be able to minimize the cord-cutting that you hear about and see that’s going on." Wilcox: "I do believe the ACC Network is still going to be very successful and that’s because they’ve got really good people that have been in this industry for some time and have already anticipated the things that are currently happening and already made plans on how they’re going to deal with that" (TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT, 5/3).