The 2019 ACC Tournament marked the end of an era as the last separate broadcast for Raycom Sports. Raycom had a remarkable impact on college sports since their 1979 founding, broadcasting syndicated packages for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 8, Pac-10 and more. They had been particularly associated with the ACC, teaming with Jefferson-Pilot Communications in 1980-81 to take over a package of ACC games that dated back to 1957 and holding on to ACC rights long after they lost rights to other conferences.
But with the ACC Network coming in, Raycom’s rights are up. They’ll still be involved in producing games for ESPN on the new network and serving as the ACC’s digital partner, but there won’t be Raycom-branded games airing on local broadcast networks any more. This year’s ACC Tournament marked their last hurrah on the independent side, and long-time Raycom voice Tim Brando narrated a nice closing video to cap off their coverage of Duke’s 73-63 win over Florida State Saturday:
Raycom, the last independent free-tv sports syndicator, whose lineage of carrying ACC basketball goes back to the 1950s, signs off for the last time. pic.twitter.com/bfyWlCDDS5
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 17, 2019
Of course, this transition isn’t all bad for Raycom. They’re still going to be heavily involved in ACC basketball, and their ownership of two high-end production trucks and their long experience with ACC broadcasts makes them look like a great partner for the new ACC Network. And both Raycom CEO Jimmy Rayburn and ACC commissioner John Swofford seemed quite optimistic about their new role in an interview with Brant Wilkerson-New of The News & Record (based in Greensboro, NC) earlier this week:
“We got a very, very good — lucrative — production contract from ESPN,” Raycom CEO Jimmy Rayburn said. “A lot of the games next year will still be produced from top to bottom, but they just won’t have the Raycom name on it.
“Our bread and butter will still be the ACC, just in a different form.”
…”Raycom will still be around and still be a factor,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said.
…Swofford said that Raycom has continued to be a tremendous partner through the transition to the ACC Network, understanding this is simply a different landscape that requires a new approach.
“All media is transitioning right now and it’s important that our league be front and center with those transitions,” Swofford said. “Now, I think we have another partner at ESPN, who is certainly not new to us, who will help us be right where we need to be at this given point in time and for the future. Our league has always been progressive in its thinking from a television standpoint and I think this another instance of that.”
Still, this is a significant change for Raycom, and the end of an era in college sports.
[Timothy Burke on Twitter]