ACC Network

There were major concerns about ACC Network’s distribution ahead of its August 2019 launch, but shortly after that launch, they struck deals with Dish/Sling (the day after), Cox (the week after), and AT&T (a month after). Adding that to the NCTC and Charter deals they struck not long before launch, they were in pretty good shape, with deals with providers covering an estimated 56-57 million homes at that time; of course, that doesn’t mean that that many homes had ACC Network (it all depends on the details of the deals and what tier it’s in), but it wasn’t bad. And now, two years later, they’ve added another significant provider, striking a deal with Mediacom (the 14th-largest MVPD and fifth-largest cable provider with 643,000 subscribers, as per end of 2o20 numbers) as part of a larger ESPN/Disney renewal there, which will see ACC Network available to Mediacom subscribers beginning in September (it’s notable that that’s when ACC football starts; no ACC teams are playing in Week Zero this year). Here’s more on that from an ESPN release:

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (NYSE: DIS) and Mediacom Communications Corporation today announced a new comprehensive agreement to continue to deliver Disney’s robust lineup of sports, news, kids, family and general entertainment content to Mediacom customers.

As part of the distribution agreement, Mediacom will now offer the ACC Network to its subscriber base, allowing fans and followers of the Atlantic Coast Conference to access the multiplatform network beginning this September. The multi-year deal also reaffirms the companies’ mutual commitment to enhance the customer experience by delivering video content to viewers across multiple platforms.

…“We couldn’t be more pleased to extend our long-standing relationship with Mediacom and continue to supply Disney’s best-in-class programming from our suite of networks,” said Sean Breen, Executive Vice President, Platform Distribution, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. “With Mediacom’s strong presence in key markets, the addition of the ACC Network and its extensive offerings of live sporting events will add tremendous value for their customers.”

“Since Mediacom’s inception over 25 years ago, it has been our mission to serve our customers with state-of-the-art technology and expansive content,” said Italia Commisso Weinand, Mediacom’s EVP of Programming and Human Resources. “We are proud and honored to continue our relationship with the Disney organization that shares this same commitment to quality and innovation.”

As with most of these deals, it’s not clear exactly where ACC Network will land on Mediacom, and whether that will be in a basic tier or an add-on sports tier. That’s sometimes dependent on location (some conference networks are basic tier in states with or near to conference schools, add-on tier in other states, which is how you get things like the Big Ten adding Rutgers and Maryland), and on that front, it’s notable that Mediacom’s largest subscriber bases are in Georgia (which does have an ACC team, Georgia Tech) and in the Midwest (which does not have an ACC team). They do have some clusters in Kentucky (which has Louisville) and North Carolina (which has UNC), so this could be big for fans of those schools with Mediacom cable packages, but there are a lot of states here where the ACC Network probably isn’t a priority for many subscribers (which is also probably part of why this deal wasn’t done until now).

The other factor in the timing is with this coming as a larger wave of negotiations for Mediacom to continue to carry Disney networks, and that’s part of why the Disney-Fox deal was so big. Disney already had plenty of leverage in carriage negotiations between ESPN’s networks, Freeform, and the owned-and-operated ABC affiliates, but they now have even more with FX and the National Geographic channels they picked up in the Fox deal. There’s a whole lot there, and that makes it much easier to sell a conference network. (Compare this to how well things have gone for the Pac-12 in trying to operate and distribute their own network without a media partner.)

At any rate, this is a notable deal for the continued carriage of ESPN channels on Mediacom, meaning this particular provider won’t give us a carriage dispute with angry back-and-forth ad blitzes on Monday Night Football this fall. It’s also a significant deal for the further expansion of ACC Network. Yes, Mediacom isn’t the largest provider out there without an ACCN deal (that would be Comcast, and new ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said last month that’s “one of the top priorities I have” and that something might happen there “soon”), but they’re still a notable company to add this. And this could be a big deal for fans in a couple of ACC markets in particular.

[ESPN Press Room]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.