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May
22
2013

ACC Network Stalled? Hardly…

Clemson's Andre Ellington, left, scores a touchdown in front of Florida State's Ochuko Jenije during fourth-quarter action in Clemson, S.C. on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. (Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina)A story came out this week that has convinced several folks work towards an ACC network has stalled. I was surprised that something I mentioned nearly a month ago has some questioning the viability of an ACC network, when in fact nothing has changed. Let’s go back to April 14, when I said that the relationship between the ACC/Raycom/ESPN could be a bit  tricky to resolve, but wouldn’t be showstopper.

“I am not sure if ESPN would negotiate to get those rights back or if Raycom remains in the picture. My expectation is Raycom will continue to manage the Digital Aspect, but that ESPN would have to re-obtain the syndicated games.”

From the SportsBusinessJournal piece that the ACC network may stall. 

The main roadblock is rights. When it signed its ACC deal in 2010, ESPN and Charlotte-based Raycom Sports cut a deal that grants Raycom the ACC’s digital and corporate sponsorship rights, plus a heavy dose of live football and basketball games. Through a sublicensing agreement, Raycom owns the rights to 31 live football games and 60 live men’s basketball games.

Um… sounds pretty similar to me, but this where I diverge from SPJ. I don’t believe this is anything other than yes a hurdle, but hardly anything that would stall a network.

Why am I so confident about this? Well simply it’s been common practice by these conference networks to buy back their media rights that belonged to someone else. This was something oddly the SPJ article completely left out of their discussion even as a point of comparison.

From the Pac 12… 

The Pac-12 has completed a complex six-month negotiation to acquire key TV, digital and sponsorship rights previously held by multimedia rights holders IMG College and Learfield Sports. The deal, which will require the conference to pay IMG College and Learfield roughly $15 million a year for the rights, clears the way for the launch of the Pac-12 TV channel next year, while also putting the conference in control of vital distribution categories, including wireless and multiplatform video distributor.

From the SEC

The SEC “cleared its biggest obstacle” in its bid to launch a TV channel when it “reacquired the third-tier TV rights from IMG College, Learfield Sports and CBS Collegiate Sports Properties” in recent weeks,

Each of these conference networks required more than just setting up production, getting a cable channel and you are done. There were concerns and obstacles for both channels.

From the SEC again…

The conference, however, has obstacles that must be cleared, which is why the launch of a network could take years to iron out. If it wants to launch a channel, the SEC would need to regain all of the game inventory not taken by CBS or ESPN. Sources believe it would take about three years to reclaim those games from FSN, Comcast and syndication.

The SEC’s schools also would have to turn their third-tier TV rights over to the conference. Those third-tier rights include any games — in any sport — that are not picked up by one of the network partners. Schools monetize those games by televising them on pay-per-view or streaming them on their athletic website.

I’m positive there are complexities between how the SEC regained those syndicated rights and how the ACC will do it, but in general you can see the similarities  Critics will say the devils in the details. Of course that’s the case, but had not some homework been done could Andy Haggard FSU BOT member, who last year openly criticized the ACC made these statements just 3 weeks ago? 

During the meeting, Swofford and Jordan told Haggard what the grant of rights could do for the league. There was talk about an ACC channel down the line and the revenue that could generate.

“The connection with the ACC and ESPN (won me over),” Haggard said. “The idea of a possible television (channel) with the ACC, that it would be $5 million more a year, if we could do that. And probably more than that.”

But now, Haggard said, “I can’t emphasize more how excited I am about (the ACC). Because it’s been a mixed five years here. You had a lot of alumni and boosters and lot of big-time people very unhappy with the ACC. And I was there, too, with them. And I am 100 percent turned around. I’m excited about it. I believe in it.”

Either John Swofford is the slickest car salesman on the planet to convince 15 school president’s, ADs, school trustees and a previous critic (Haggard) whose bio reads   

Wm. Andrew Haggard, of Coral Gables, has been senior partner for the Haggard Parks Haggard & Bologna, P.A. law firm since 1995. He has been a member of the Florida Bar in good standing since 1967. From 1990-92, he served as a Commissioner on the Florida Commission on Ethics. He is listed in the publications The Best Lawyers in America and Greatest American Lawyers and a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He is a Fellow and previous Chairman of the State Chair Committee of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He is a member and 1998 National Chairman of the Board of the FSU Seminole Boosters; Chairman of FSU College of Arts & Sciences Leadership Counsel and served on the 1993 FSU Presidential Search Committee.

Mr. Haggard received his Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in 1964, and his law degree from Mercer University in 1967.

or there’s been some analysis on a network and the ACC’s future that’s already been done. Now some of the details to be worked out are being revealed. If you read the blog last month you knew that already. Seriously though nothing unexpected has happened. It’s a process.


2 comments

2 pings

  1. Hokie Mark says:

    Good article! When I saw that SBJ article I though to myself “another misleading article from SBJ”. Of course the ACC will need to buy back rights – everyone who does a conference network has to do that. Duh!

  2. Jfann says:

    I know… Anyone who’s followed this network topic in the least knows the syndicated rights would have to be bought back.

    Does anyone really think Swofford, the ACC, 15 College Presidents and ADs, and several if not every ACC school’s BOT weren’t aware of the likely buyback issue and had some idea how it might be resolved before signing a GOR?

    This didn’t just show up out of no where as the SBJ article tries to allude to.

  1. Basketball and Baseball may the hidden keys to starting the ACC Network. » All Sports Discussion says:

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  2. Basketball and Baseball may be the hidden keys to starting the ACC Network. | Sports Blog United says:

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