For all the praise Swofford has gotten recently for
merging the ACC and Big East saving the ACC, this may be a stumbling block to the long-term security the uber-restrictive Grant of Rights was to provide.
Donâ€™t expect an ACC-branded TV channel to be launched any time soon.
The biggest problem so far is a rights issue. ESPN needs to control the conferenceâ€™s syndicated rights to launch a channel. But those rights are tied up until 2027 through deals with Raycom and Fox Sports Net.
â€œThereâ€™s no way an ACC network co-exists with a syndicated model,â€ said Chris Bevilacqua, a media consultant who worked with the Pac-12 to form a league network. â€œTheyâ€™re going to have to get those rights back.â€
Just a couple of weeks after the ACC renegotiated its ESPN deal and all 15 schools agreed to grant their media rights to the conference, giving the league the kind of long-term security that will theoretically keep it together, a conference network became a hot topic.
But last weekâ€™s annual spring meetings at Amelia Island, Fla., served as a reminder that itâ€™s going to be a long and winding path to get to a channel. There was much more discussion about the prospects for a channel outside the meeting rooms than there was inside, say sources who attended the meetings.
Such a league-branded channel is considered vital to the conferenceâ€™s financial future. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, beginning next year, all have channels dedicated to their leagues.
But the only commitment ESPN has given the ACC is that it will discuss the benefits of launching a channel. Industry insiders say there is not a rush to put together an ACC channel, and that it likely would be 2016 or 2017 before one would launch, if then.