Source: ESPN to launch a digital-only, "ACC Network Plus" in Aug 2016 and a linear "ACC Network" in Aug 2019. Full story in SBD tomorrow.— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 19, 2016
I've always been a bit pessimistic on an ACC branded TV channel. As John explains, they'll need to get the channel started online and wait until the ESPN and/or Disney suite of channels comes up for negotiation to get onto TV. There's precedent for ESPN asking for channel placement changes too, for example when ESPNU and ESPN Classic were swapped by many providers to get ESPNU in more homes. Maybe this is what ESPN College Extra could morph into.Because ESPN's cable/satellite operator deals don't expire any time soon. https://t.co/xuP8CkSRnJ— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 19, 2016
This would probably extend the existing TV deals for the ACC as well, based on an extension of the grant of rights. Per the tweet below:
Also have been curious to see how Raycom does/doesn't fit into the equation. They were brought in during the last round of open bidding for ACC rights to manage syndication and paid around 1/3rd of the rights fee, particularly in areas where both the ACC and SEC were selling syndication packages to local stations. Supposedly the rights to Raycom's games were through 2027. Were those bought back or is there a convoluted equity arrangement for Raycom, and by extension, FOX, who was granted some of this content, which ends up on several FOX Sports Net affiliated networks? For FOX Sports Net, they might be able to replace a portion of the content using Big 12 football and Big East basketball for when the Big Ten moves some content over to FOX and FS1. Since the network is starting this year with the RSN package already in place, I wouldn't expect a shift until 2017-18, which coincides with when FOX is supposed to start with the Big TenACC Network will launch by August 2019 & ACC extends conference grant of rights thru 2036, sources told @ESPN— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 19, 2016
The SEC Network, from a numbers perspective for football, is similar in the number of games that ESPN previously sublicensed to FSN & Comcast, the SEC TV syndication package and each school's PPV/local TV game. If ESPN were to get their content back from Raycom, which is around 30 football games & 70 exclusive men's basketball games (ie. not counting Raycom airing games side-by-side with ESPN like the ACC men's baskeball tournament & one Duke vs. UNC MBK game), they could supplement with content from ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN3 to easily construct the TV network. The ACC also has extensive coverage of baseball and women's basketball through their RSN package to fill out the schedule and some schools, such as Clemson, have invested in production equipment for ESPN3, which will probably be used for an ACC Network.
In terms of the men's basketball tournament, I could see part of that tournament moving to the ACC Network exclusively for the first two rounds (Tuesday & Wednesday) while keeping quarterfinals through the final (Thursday-Saturday) on ESPN. I would assume that the simulcasting of games would end. Where the conference network would end up with respect to selection order for football is anyone's guess.
For the ESPN operated ACC Digital Network that is being proposed, ESPN did open up several conference branded ESPN3 players a couple years ago, including the ACC, so for the digital side of things, will this be a rebrand of that digital platform? The ACC also operates a digital vault of old games and a Campus Insiders branded channel and I would be curious to see whether that would be combined into a single ACC Digital Network.