ESPN Reveals Launch Date For ACC Network

Building on the momentum of college conference-affiliated TV ventures like the SEC Network, ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference have set August 22, 2019, as the launch date for the ACC Network.

A week after it goes on the air, Georgia Tech’s football team will visit Clemson. While the ACC’s football schools are not perennial national championship contenders, the network will also carry 150 games of men’s and women’s basketball, a longtime strength of the conference. (Duke and North Carolina are longtime ACC stalwarts.)

The new network will air 1,300 live events a year on its TV and digital platforms, featuring the conference’s 15 member schools and 27 sports.

“We are all systems go with ACC Network preparations,” ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, James Pitaro. “The strength of the season opening game between Georgia Tech and Clemson is indicative of the robust schedule and programming we have planned for ACC fans.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the partnership “allows fans to have greater access than ever before.”

More ACC Network details will be revealed throughout 2019.

ESPN has been televising ACC content since 1979 and has exclusive rights to every conference-controlled game across sports and championships.

Driven by the SEC Network, the South East Conference (which includes football powerhouses Alabama and Auburn) reported $650 million in revenue in fiscal 2017, double the amount it took in four years earlier.

The latest college sports launch comes during an eventful phase of the high-profile derby for sports TV rights across the media landscape. Major NFL deals are coming up for renewal over the next two to three years, and already the addition of Thursday night games and streaming partners such as Amazon has added new dealmaking wrinkles.

Nearly 40 potential suitors, spanning tech, local TV and private equity, have entered the early rounds of bidding for 21st Century Fox’s portfolio of 22 regional sports networks, an asset that Disney has been ordered to divest before acquiring most of Fox. The RSNs are valued at between $15 billion and $20 billion, though they face questions about their ability to manage through changing viewer habit and the ongoing shift to digital platforms.

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