ACC, ESPN Extend TV Contract

Cha-ching!

With the future addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, the league exercised its right to re-negotiate the 2010 TV deal with ESPN which has produced a new 15-year, $3.6 billion contract. That number almost doubles what the deal two years ago brought in. ACC member schools will receive $17 million per year under the new pact, an increase of $5 million per school annually. Per the ACC release here is a rundown of what can be expected from the new contract which goes into effect on July 1st.

ACC on ESPN

ESPN has been televising ACC content since 1979 and has exclusive rights to every conference-controlled football and men’s basketball game, plus women’s basketball and Olympic sports matchups, and all ACC championship events. ACC content is distributed on the widest array of multi-media platforms in the sports industry. ACC on ESPN highlights:

• Football on national TV: Extensive regular-season action on Saturday afternoon and nights, primetime Thursdays, three Fridays including Thanksgiving Friday, Labor Day Monday and the ACC Football Championship Game;

• Men’s basketball on national TV: The most comprehensive coverage of regular-season games and the entire conference tournament produced and distributed via ESPN; regular-season matchups of the storied Duke-North Carolina rivalry each year; full national telecasts on all games televised on an ESPN platform; a weekly ACC Sunday Night Basketball franchise on ESPNU;

• Women’s basketball: Numerous women’s regular-season basketball games and the entire conference tournament;

• Olympic sports: An extensive commitment to the league’s soon to be 23-sponsored Olympic sports with regular-season and championship telecasts, highlighted by baseball, softball, lacrosse, and men’s and women’s soccer;

• Digital media: Exclusive ACC football, men’s and women’s basketball, and Olympic sports games as well as simulcasts on ESPN3. Live ACC games, including football and basketball, on ESPN Mobile TV;

• ESPN 3D: Select live ACC action on ESPN 3D;

• Additional outlets: Select ACC action on ESPN International, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes; and extensive content rights for ESPN.com.

The one notable change is the ACC will now have three Friday night football games, much like the Big East has done for several years. That probably won't sit well with high school coaches in the ACC footprint since it will conflict with prep football games. One of the Friday games will be the day after Thanksgiving which will be interesting. As with the old deal, the ACC will continue to have teams playing on Thursday night.

Overall reaction to the deal has ranged from satisfaction that ACC Commissioner John Swofford secured more money for the league to some complaints from league football schools saying there should have been a better deal given how much cash is being thrown at college football. The problem there is the ACC has not exactly been tearing it up on the national stage in football with much of the blame for that resting at the feet of the very schools whose fans are complaining about the deal. The ACC is 2-13 in BCS bowl games. Virginia Tech has won a number of ACC titles since joining the league but not performed well at the Orange Bowl nor did the Hokies beat Michigan at the Sugar Bowl with the ACC's first ever at-large BCS bowl bid. Florida State continues to be the program everyone claims is back in September but has yet to pan out. Clemson gave up 70 points(!!) to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl after winning the ACC title game. Toss in the fact Miami is not your Miami of the 1980s and 1990s and Georgia Tech is running the triple option, you begin to see that it is the schools who should be carrying the water in football simply aren't doing it.

On the basketball side, things are not as great as they could be but the two national powers, UNC and Duke, continue to win consistently and draw solid ratings. The additions of Syracuse and Pitt will be a boost for the ACC in basketball but ultimately the big money is in football. The fact the ACC got what it did given the state of football is impressive within itself. If people want more then one or two of the football powers in the ACC really need to make waves on the national scene.

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