In case you weren’t already aware of this, there won’t be an ACC Network for at least 3 or 4 years. There are some issues to overcome. There is a whole infrastructure to set up. Even the SEC Network that has been announced was more than two years in the works.
For the ACC, there are some added layers that complicate thing. Such as their deal with Raycom.
The Sports Business Daily did a fine — if somewhat pessimistic piece — detailing the hurdles to a ACC Network.
The main roadblock is rights. When it signed its ACC deal in 2010, ESPN and Charlotte-based Raycom Sports cut a deal that grants Raycom the ACC’s digital and corporate sponsorship rights, plus a heavy dose of live football and basketball games. Through a sublicensing agreement, Raycom owns the rights to 31 live football games and 60 live men’s basketball games.
Even if the conference is able to buy back those rights 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. Live local sports programming is important to Fox’s RSNs, and they are not likely to give up those games cheaply.
The games that stay with Raycom make up the ACC’s long-running syndicated package that is distributed to more than 50 million households on over-the-air networks, and reaches 25 of the top 50 U.S. TV markets.
Those deals extend through 2027.
It’s unlikely that ESPN will try to launch a channel without those rights. ESPN brought all of those rights — TV, digital, sponsorship — together as it formed the SEC Network, which launches in August 2014.
That’s because a syndicated model that the ACC follows (and the SEC had been operating) really doesn’t work when you want your own channel.