With New Swagger, ACC Moves Ahead on Network

Last week, the SEC announced its new network with ESPN.

(from Sports Business Journal, May 6, 2013) After rival conference SEC (Southeastern Conference) and ESPN announced their new network agreement, ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) officials are focusing their attention on launching their own league-branded network. The ACC would potentially be joining the ranks of the Big Ten, Pac-12, and, now, the SEC as conferences that own channels.

ACC Commissioner, John Swofford, said, “We’ve got the strongest collegiate TV market in the country. We’re now in a position to accelerate talks with ESPN, which were already ongoing, about a network.”

Recent moves have caused ESPN to sweeten its rights offer for now a third time. This includes an all-in media deal that will average an astounding $260 million per year through 2027. The ACC’s media rights deal with ESPN includes all game inventory, digital rights, and corporate sponsorship. ACC sources highlighted the fact that the $260 million average places the 15-team ACC on more level ground with its peer conferences.

The ACC has had the right expansion in recent years to promote the right demographics, financials, and projections as much more palatable than the SEC, but any agreement won’t come quickly. The recent SEC Network was over three years in the making, including distribution, programming, and legal aspects.

Clemson (an ACC team) Athletic Director, Dan Radakovich, stated that media contracts are how conferences are measured these days, “I don’t know why they need to be measured, but that has become a huge measure. Now we feel like the ACC can compete at the highest level.”

If ESPN is now turning its attention to a possible ACC network, company President John Skipper wasn’t saying so at the SEC announcement. Skipper refused to comment on any other conference partners, but that hasn’t stopped ACC administrators from beaming about their own potential.  No parties would comment on what the new network will mean financially to SEC schools.