With all the rumblings concerning expansion of other conferences and how it might affect the ACC, this was important for John Swofford to get done:
ESPN won the TV rights to ACC football and basketball in a bidding competition with Fox Sports that was surprisingly close, industry sources say, and as a result made the conference several million more dollars.
The back-and-forth bidding, which reached its final stages last week at the league’s spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., drove up ESPN’s rights fee from initial projections of about $120 million a year to $155 million, sources said, providing the ACC with more than double the revenue it was receiving from its previous football and basketball contracts.
ESPN’s increase was in response to an unexpectedly strong pursuit by Fox Sports and sources familiar with the negotiations say the bidding was neck-and-neck last week.
The $155 million per year is still well short of what the SEC is pulling from CBS and ESPN buy as Jim Young at ACC Sports Journal points out, that is a matter of timing and product on the football field:
While those numbers are south of the SEC’s landmark $3 billion/15-year deal with ESPN and CBS, they are considerably larger than the ACC’s previous television deal, which ends in 2011. That contract paid the league $67 million per year. On a per-school basis, the ACC’s members stand to go from earning $5.6 million per year to an average annual haul of $12.9 million.
Again, that’s well short of the $17 million that the SEC’s 12 member schools are raking in annually, but it’s impressive considering these three factors:
- The SEC negotiated its deal about a month before the U.S. stock market tumbled in the fall of 2008.
- The ACC had to negotiate its deal after ESPN had already tied up so much money with the SEC
- The SEC has been the dominant force in football over in the past decade.
Football is king and the SEC's prowess in that sport means they are always going to command more money. For the ACC, the football could be better but the basketball helps, particularly College Basketball Armageddon. Regardless this is an impressive deal, especially when you consider the per school take annually which will more than double to almost $13 million from $5.6 million during the last contract.
While it appears we will continue to see games broadcast on Raycom Sports affiliates, what is unclear is if the Sunday Night game for basketball will still exist on Fox Sports South.