Earlier this month, ESPN and the SEC announced the formation of the SEC Network whch will launch next year. It was thought that an ESPN-run ACC Network was not far behind, but now we learn that it may not be coming to fruition any time soon.
John Ourand in Sports Business Journal reports that due to syndicated rights issues with Fox Sports Net and Raycom, we may not see an all-cable ACC Network unless they sell back their games to ESPN. In 2010 when ESPN and the ACC neogiated their deal, Raycom was sold a package of live football and men's basketball games. In turn, Raycom sublicensed a package of football and basketball games to Fox Sports Net which syndicates them to affiliates in ACC territory. These deals expire in 2027 and it appears neither Raycom nor Fox Sports Net are willing to let them go.
In order to successfully launch an ACC Network, ESPN would need Raycom's and Fox Sports Net's packages. With the SEC, ESPN owned the syndicated rights and was able to convince the individual teams to sell back their local TV rights to launch the SEC Network. However, the ACC is a bit more complicated. In fact when ESPN negotiated its deal with the league, ACC officials requested that ESPN partner with Raycom on TV rights. Now with the league hoping to launch its own network, it finds that partnership is the monkey wrench blocking the path of getting a new deal done.
Ourand also reports that in league meetings last week, talks about an ACC Network hardly got off the ground. So it appears with Notre Dame entering the league for basketball and Olympic Sports, the ACC will have to rely on the old broadcast-cable-syndicated model to generate revenue.
The Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 all have their own networks. The Big Ten remains the gold standard as it makes money for the league and Fox. Pac-12 Networks are struggling to find carriage and it's a question mark whether it can be a cash cow as the Big Ten Network. And all eyes will be on the SEC Network if it can reach with cable and satellite providers so it can begin to make money. With the conference's prestige and ESPN's backing, it would be a huge upset if the network was not a success.
All the while, the ACC will have to make due with its current model and hope to keep up with their major conference brethren.