We were inundated with the SEC Network this past fall, but it seems as though ESPN and the ACC are getting closer to creating a television partnership. The league will hold its annual winter meetings next week and an update on the potential channel should be on the agenda. Recently, Florida State President John Thrasher and Virginia Tech’s Whit Babcock – mentioned that talks are still ongoing and that the feedback has been positive. While the ACC distributes a little over $20 million a year to its members currently, getting a channel will give the conference a chance to financially compete with the Big Ten and SEC.
The most anticipated and lucrative increase in conference monies would be a cable channel, in partnership with ESPN, dedicated to ACC sports and similar to the wildly successful SEC Network. Babcock expects the project to be discussed at the league’s winter meetings next week in Florida.
“Each report that we receive is a little more optimistic,” he said. “We’re very anxious for that to occur. It’s obviously great exposure for our sports but it’s obviously a revenue stream that can offset all these new measures and also help us keep pace with the SEC. ESPN is one of the best marketers in the world, so when they take your product and push it out there, I thought they nailed it with the SEC.”
The most likely launch date for an ACC channel would be 2016 or ’17.
What Thrasher had to say:
Although he wasn’t serving in an official capacity with FSU in 2013, when Barron locked the school into the ACC by signing a long-term Grant of Rights agreement, Thrasher said he is excited about the future of the conference. He was particularly encouraged by a recent visit from the ACC’s television consultant, who is working with ESPN on creating a cable network similar to those operated by the SEC and Big Ten.
“I think that’s a viable thing,” Thrasher said. “They’re working hard on it. Whether we can get it up and running by 2016, I don’t know. But that’s the goal. … We’re excited about that. And I’ll tell you, that would be a big boom to us in terms of revenue to do that. We’re going to work hard on that.”
As it turns out, Thrasher’s political clout could help make that venture become a reality. Because every state has its own laws and cable networks, Thrasher said the ACC’s consultant wanted to know if he could help the conference clear any potential obstacles in Florida.