With Maryland out, and Louisville in did the ACC really lose a Cable Television Market?


As Maryland played it’s final ACC regular season basketball Sunday, an interesting discussion ensued on twitter about the the Terrapins departure. Virginia fan @Mikeysurf, ACC Sports Journalist @AJonesACC, and myself @TalkinACCSports engaged in a lively debate about how significant the loss of Maryland was to the Television market of the Washington DC area, and whether the addition of Louisville made up for it. By the way both @Mikeysurf and @AJonesACC are good twitter follows.

Now based purely on athletic performance Louisville has far exceeded the majority of Maryland athletics. That is without question. The additions of Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh  give the ACC access into regions they were previously not part of. For the purpose of this post we’re just looking at Louisville and Maryland. In addition this in only from the perspective of potential ACC Network subscribers should that one day happen.

Now that I’ve set things up @Mikeysurf believes losing Maryland was a substantial loss in potential ACC subscribers in the Washington DC/Maryland area. @AJonesACC and I felt that while no one wanted Maryland to leave, the loss while not insignificant was minimized by the addition of the Lousiville market, and the feeling that number of Virginia and Virginia Tech fans in the Maryland would still give the ACC access to the DC market.

For reference the Washington DC market is ranked 8th and Louisville is 48th. 

Let’s take what we know with existing conference television networks. First I have yet to see a single conference carriage fee done by anything other footprint states. By that I mean the Big 10, Pac 12, and SEC carriage fees are defined by the states that have those conferences members and those that do not. Nothing else… If if there is another way to determine carriage fees, feel free to comment below.

From this Al.Com article talking about the SEC Network.

That would be the fee for cable and satellite operators within the SEC’s 11-state footprint, and it would drop to 25 cents outside SEC territory, according to the report…

The Big Ten Network with Fox charges up to $1 in its 11-state footprint, and subscription fees inside and outside the footprint average 37 cents, according to researcher SNL Kagan.

You have to go by in state footprints, even neighboring states like North Carolina to South Carolina or Ohio to Kentucky are not considered in the footprint to the SEC, and the SEC cannot charge as much in those states. That same goes for the Big 10.

Let’s compare Louisville and Maryland by households… Now not every household will have cable nor will every household that has cable will care about sports, but to compare apples to apples we will go by total households in each state, because each household is a potential subscriber.

Kentucky has 1,691,716 HouseHolds.  Maryland has 2,138,806 Households. The District of Columbia has 261,192 Households.

Now say the ACC can charge $1 per Household in their Footprint and 25 cents outside of it. I would say the District of Columbia is outside the footprint of the ACC without or without Maryland, because that is the premise that already exists with neighboring states and conference networks.

Therefore at $1 the Kentucky market is worth $1,691,716. Maryland is worth $2,138,806 and DC $65,298 for their 25 cents per subscriber.

Now here is the difference, without Louisville the ACC has little to no presence in the state of Kentucky. We can’t say for sure an ACC Network would get picked up there.

I can’t get the Pac 12 network with my cable service, and the Big 10 network is part of a costly sports tier where I live.

Maryland still has a significant ACC presence with 8 ACC schools within a 6 hour drive of the state. We’ll say the ACC can still charge 25 cents per household there. That is worth $534,701.50. You can add that total to Louisville’s for a sum of $2,226,417.50 which is actually more than Maryland offers as a standalone market.

Now I won’t argue that as exact numbers, but I think we can see the results of losing Maryland as a market and replacing them with Louisville is negligible.  Of course the ACC loses the exclusivity of the mid-atlantic region as they will at least in part share it with the Big 10, but there are many shared markets across the country between conferences.

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