The last few weeks have seen some very good news for the new ACC Network on the carriage front, with deals with Charter, Dish/Sling TV, and now Cox. ESPN announced Wednesday that Cox has signed on to carry the network:
Disney Media Distribution and Cox Communications have reached an agreement to carry ESPN’s newly launched ACC Network. The deal will allow fans and followers of the Atlantic Coast Conference to access the multiplatform network in all Cox markets once launched.
“We know our customers are passionate about sports, and we’re excited to be able to connect them to exclusive ACC content and games through this agreement,” said Andy Albert, Cox Communications senior vice president, content acquisition.
Added Sean Breen, Disney Media Distribution senior vice president, “Cox Communications’ strong presence in key markets across the ACC footprint makes this agreement great for their consumers and vibrant fan base. With more than 30 remaining football games on tap this season, Cox subscribers will get to welcome the ACC Network in overdrive.”
This comes at a good time for fans of ACC schools who have Cox, as Week 2 of the college football season is on tap and ACCN has a whole lot of games there. They’ll carry William and Mary at Virginia Friday night, then Ohio-Pitt, USF-Georgia Tech, ULM-Florida State, and Miami-North Carolina Saturday, plus Richmond-Boston College, North Carolina A&T-Duke and Eastern Kentucky-Louisville on the streaming-only ACC Network Extra (ACCNX) service through the ESPN app (ACC Network subscriber authentication is now required, and Cox subscribers will be able to access that under the new agreement). The Western Carolina-NC State game will also be available on ACCNX to those who don’t have Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Go.
As per estimates David Glenn of The Athletic relayed in July, Cox has an estimated four million subscribers, so this is a significant addition for ACC Network. And as Breen mentioned in that release, they have a notable presence in many ACC markets. The addition of Cox’s subscribers here also means that ACC Network now has deals with companies that collectively cover around 52 million potential subscribers (not all subscribers to a company will automatically get ACC Network, as that depends on the company’s package deals and where ACC Network is placed), putting them close to the estimates for the more-established Big Ten Network and SEC Network (55 and 59 million respectively). And that further adds to optimism about the network and what it can mean for the conference.
There are still significant holdouts for ACC Network, including Comcast (an estimated 21 million subscribers) and AT&T Uverse (3-4 million), so this certainly doesn’t mean that their carriage issues are over. And in certain markets like Miami (which has a heavy presence from those two providers), there are still going to be a lot of fans missing out on games if they don’t switch to a provider that carries ACCN, and there’s understandably going to be some backlash over that. But this Cox deal is another important move for the network, and one that puts it in a better position going forward.