Basketball and Baseball may be the hidden keys to starting the ACC Network.

Colin MoranIt’s going to take time for an ACC network to get off the ground, but I do believe it will happen. I don’t have any reason to think otherwise at the moment. Gradually information is being released that looks favorably on the content the ACC can offer such a network. We always think in terms of football, but in the course of a year football will make up only a small percentage of a network’s programming. A network  may show 50 football games in a year.

That’s 200 hours of live football on a conference. These networks are 24 hour 7 day a week channels. That’s means live football makes up 200/8760 or about 2-3% of a network. Football is the dominant collegiate sport and by far, but having some additional compelling programming certainly doesn’t hurt.

There was interesting Q&A with ESPN’s Burke Magnus from al.com recently 

While he makes no definitive statement regarding whether an ACC network is imminent, his comments display a real intrigue at the possibilities of future ACC basketball.

“I think what the ACC has created could in many ways redefine what’s possible in college basketball in terms of fan interest. When you have the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville joining Tobacco Road along with their other basketball brands, there are real possibilities there.

“I think there will be so many meaningful games between those ACC teams that it will almost be a somewhat daily conversation for basketball fans.

“I think we could see 1.5 and 2.0 ratings regularly out of the ACC, which would be pretty spectacular.”

Beyond that comes this from another sport the ACC is pretty good at… baseball. Baseball? Come on nobody watches college baseball. Who cares about that? Well ESPN does and they are making a heavy investment in it.

This past weekend ESPN reported Millions watched ESPN’s regional baseball coverage. 

“Overall, ESPN2 and ESPNU combined to reach 11,680,000 viewers for its game telecasts. In addition, fans watched more than 96,600,000 live and replay minutes of Regionals action on the ESPN3 and WatchESPN platforms.”

Another revealing piece of data came from this article, and it adds credence to John Swofford’s statements of the power of the ACC’s viewing footprint.

“Greenville-Spartanburg was the highest-rated metered market for ESPN2’s Regional telecasts followed by Louisville, New Orleans, Tulsa, Raleigh-Durham and Knoxville. The top 10 was rounded out by Birmingham, Greensboro, Charlotte and Nashville. Richmond, Norfolk, Memphis, Phoenix and Buffalo were the 11 through 15 highest-rated markets.”

Of the 15 highest rated markets 6 were exclusive current and future ACC markets… Louisville, Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, Richmond, Norfolk. Greenville-Spartanburg can be considered at least a split Clemson market along with South Carolina.

No other conference had that many markets in their footprint. Even the SEC had only 5 exclusive markets,and they had New Orleans, Knoxville, Birmingham, Nashville, and Memphis. I’m still wondering who the people in Buffalo were watching, but that could be considered an ACC market now as well with Syracuse only about 150 miles away.

Other sports like lacrosse and women’s basketball also have sizable followings, and if you weren’t paying attention the ACC won national titles in both men’s (Duke) and women’s (UNC) lacrosse this year. Future ACC members Notre Dame and Louisville made the NCAA Women’s Final 4 in basketball.

Certainly ESPN and the ACC are well aware of these numbers in their network discussions.

You may want to take a look at some of the related articles I’ve written on the ACC and conference Networks in the past.

ACC Network Stalled? Hardly…  

So why did ESPN agree to a new TV deal and a likely conference network with the ACC? 

Released ESPN SEC Network details provide blueprint for possible ACC Network.

The ACC’s Digital Network leading the way for online content in college athletics.

Become a fan of the ACC on Facebook and follow the ACC on Twitter

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