Fans waiting for the ACC Network to launch will apparently have to wait even longer.
According to Georgia Tech president G.P. “Bud” Peterson (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), ESPN — which has been in talks with the ACC to partner up on a conference network — asked to delay plans so that further preparations could be made.
“(ESPN) had come back and said that in some of the other instances where (conference) networks have started, they lost considerable amounts of money in the first couple of years,” Peterson said at a quarterly board meeting for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. “What they’d like to do is delay the start for a couple years and do the necessary preparation.”
However, the Daily Press‘ David Teel reached out to ACC commissioner John Swofford for comment on the AJC article and was told something different.
“Anything said surrounding our ongoing television discussions is premature and speculative,” Swofford said. “If, or when, we reach a point where our television agreements have been altered, we will make an announcement at the appropriate time.”
ESPN and the ACC have been in discussions for the past five years, and the prevailing belief was that 2017 was the target date for an ACC Network. But executives from both sides have proceeded with caution, citing the need to build a broader base of distribution to cable providers, which the Big Ten and Pac-12 struggled with in the early days of their networks. But recent additions to the conference have expanded the ACC’s reach into western Pennsylvania, New York and Kentucky, along with Notre Dame’s established footprint in the Midwest.
The slow, steady approach has frustrated ACC coaches who see what the Big Ten Network and SEC Network have accomplished for those respective conferences and want the exposure and revenue that come from a channel dedicated to ACC athletics.
To placate conference officials who want to get moving on a network launch, ESPN could pay more money on top of the rights deal it currently has with the ACC. That package runs through the 2026-27 season and pays out $19 million annually to each school. However, that amount is less than members of the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 receive in revenues from their networks. The SEC, for example, is projecting that its schools could receive $31 million apiece this season.
Of course, ESPN has other pressing, public matters to concern itself with at this time, which may also be a factor in asking the ACC to pump the brakes.