Update 8/29: the latest on all the providers carrying the ACC Network can be found here. The original story is below.
Three years of waiting come to an end tomorrow, August 22, 2019, as the ACC Network officially launches. Campuses are starting to open their on-site production facilities, and cable companies are scrambling with last-second negotiations. Let’s summarize where things stand in case you haven’t been keeping track.
Who can watch it?
Always the biggest question. Since March, ESPN, the ACC, and various coaches have been encouraging fans to request that it be added to their cable provider. There’s a lot that goes behind that, and if you have a subscription, David Glenn wrote a great piece in the Athletic. It goes into the weeds of both how much money is at stake and all the factors that go into a company adding the channel.
The big news is that Charter and ESPN came to an agreement last week to carry the channel, which should cover both the Triangle and Charlotte areas. If you’re a Direct TV satellite customer, a FiOS customer, or have cut the cord with Hulu or YouTube TV, you’ll also have access to the network. Several independent cable companies have also agreed to opt into carrying the channel.
Not all fans are that lucky, though. Cox, Comcast Xfinity, and Dish Network have all yet to agree. Cox handles a good part of Eastern North Carolina, and Comcast serves a lot of big markets in the ACC footprint like Boston, Atlanta, Tallahassee, and Miami. That said, Comcast didn’t agree to show the SEC Network until the last second, so something similar could happen here for both. Dish Network has been playing hardball with all sports networks lately, as they currently won’t show the Fox Sports Regional Networks. There’s a suspicion the ACC Network may have something to do with this.
The really curious one is AT&T. Direct TV, who is owned by AT&T, agreed to carry the network. However, their streaming service and land-based cable company U-Verse have not.
The GoHeels Twitter sent out a handy guide for the companies that are and aren’t carrying, you can check to see if yours is listed.
If your company is on the thumbs-down emoji, let them know you want it. The more companies that carry it, the more money that goes to the conference, and thus more revenue that goes to UNC. If they refuse, remember you have streaming options at your disposal.
No other carriers have been added on since the launch. After people started to discover their carrier didn’t have the ACCN, customers started tweeting at the companies. Of the main companies Comcast, Cox, and Dish, here have been their responses:
We don’t have an agreement to carry ACC Network at this time, and we haven't determined future channel additions. However, you can still watch some ACC games on channels like the ESPN networks, FOX Sports, FS1 and CBS Sports via the Xfinity X1 and Stream Sports guides.— Comcast (@comcast) August 22, 2019
Hello! Cox is actively negotiating with ESPN for the ACC Network- working to bring the ACC Network to our TV Lineup, however, Cox has a commitment to keeping costs reasonable. -Dustin— Cox Customer Care (@CoxHelp) August 23, 2019
At this time, we do not have a contract to carry ACC Network. We are working with the owner of the ACC Network to see if a fair agreement can be reached to carry this channel on DISH’s line-up. Our top priority is to provide our customers with the ... https://t.co/UTOhVaTAEZ— DISH Answers (@dish_answers) August 23, 2019
At least Dish and Cox are saying they are negotiating. The message from Comcast doesn't make any mention of negotiations, which is alarming. As the first football games get closer, pressure should increase and hopefully a resolution will be reached. If you’re a customer of one of these companies, keep letting them know. As a Comcast customer, I know I will.
What’s on the first day?
On Monday, ESPN announced the first ten minutes of the network will be shown across multiple channels, and also released the lineup. Chances are you know what’s being shown, so we really don’t need to dig too deep into that.
What’s after Day 1?
When they aren’t showing actual events, the ACCN will be highlighted by two original studio shows: “Packer and Durham” from 7 AM to 10 AM, and “All ACC,” essentially a SportsCenter for the ACC. Mark Packer and Wes Durham will provide a morning drive radio show format that centers on ACC talk, anchored by two men who have lived and breathed the ACC for years. It’s likely this pairing is set to be the ACCN’s “Paul Feinbaum Show,” and should create its own loyal base.
On top of the documentary being shown on Thursday, several other features have been announced, including a documentary following the ACC Tournament, digging into the Raycom archives to discuss ACC legends, and a couple of “Hard Knocks” style shows for two signature programs of the ACC: Clemson Football, and yes, UNC Basketball.
That’s right, Roy Williams is allowing cameras access to UNC during what should be a fascinating 2019-20 basketball season. For many fans, it’ll be their first chance to see what they’ve only heard about: the rigors of UNC practice. It should be appointment viewing.
What about the games?
This area is probably going to be the biggest adjustment for fans. First and foremost, those games that used to be broadcast by Raycom on a local station are no more. The ACC Network will be showing multiple games on their air as well as the existing games shown across the other ESPN Networks. It’s already been announced that Carolina’s football home opener against Miami on September 7th will be on ACCN, as well as Carolina’s first basketball game against Notre Dame on November 6th. It’s a safe bet those two will not be the last games for either sport shown on the ACCN this year.
The bigger adjustment is going to be for the other sports. In years’ past, those who subscribed to ESPN had access to ACC Network Extra on the streaming device of their choice. That channel provided access to the non-revenue sports, but now, those games are going to be moved to where you can only access them if you have access to the ACC Network. Again, if your company isn’t on the list and you were hoping to watch some of these matches, you’re going to want to let your cable carrier know.
Who’s on the Network?
Lastly, some familiar faces will be the ones behind the mics for the bigger games. Wes Durham will not only be part of the daily show with Mark Packer, but also doing play by play for multiple sports across the ACCN. The other play-by-play voice fans will recognize is Dave O’Brien. O’Brien currently does play-by-play for the Boston Red Sox on their cable channel. He has years of experience calling various sports across ESPN, including the women’s Final Four. He comes back to the Disney umbrella to call multiple sports for the Network.
Other announcers and hosts can be found here.
It’s understandable if most UNC fans won’t tune in on opening night, but the potential of the ACCN is immense for both UNC and the conference as a whole. Hopefully the rest of the big players in cable will come around at least before September 7th so fans aren’t locked out of seeing Mack Brown’s UNC Homecoming.