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May
12
2016

The ACC appears to be closing in on finalizing their Conference Network.

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The ACC Spring Meetings have came and went, and as expected we didn’t get an official announcement of the much anticipated ACC Network. Critics of John Swofford expressed frustration and disappointment that more news wasn’t released. Read between the lines of recent statements from those in the media, to ACC AD’s, to even John Swofford and it seems the ACC is quite far along with their negotiations with ESPN, and in my estimation is closing in on finalizing their ACC Network announcement. Here is what we’ve learned, and you can judge for yourself.

Let’s start with what we heard prior to the Spring Meetings.

Tim Brando of FoxSports and Raycom said

Ok Mr. Brando that opened some eyes, but would he back off statement a week later? The answer is no.

He went on a Mississippi a sports radio show, and reiterated that an ACC Network was likely coming, and that the conference was workign very hard with ESPN to get it done in time for a 2018 launch.

ESPN ACC writer David Hale made similar statements on North Carolina radio, and added he expected it to be more of a traditional channel model.

Good stuff here, but media are one thing – what is being said within the ACC.

ClemsonInsider.com says more information will be coming out this summer after an interview with Clemson AD Dan Radakovich. Radakovich had this to say.

“We have had some conversations and really what the substance of it was, from this point forward, all of the communications related to that are going to come from the commissioner,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich told The Clemson Insider from Amelia Island. “So as we get into what we hope is the final stages of getting this done, communications will emanate from the commissioner’s office.”

Well then, “the final stages?” That does sound promising.

As said by Radakovich, any communication will come from the commissioner’s office – that’s John Swofford. Swofford has been vague during this entire process with quotes like “We have a great partner in ESPN, a great footprint, we’re discussing things”. Rarely revealing anything to where the ACC stands on the progress of the ACC Network. Swofford wouldn’t make a definitive statement this week either, but Swofford given his typical vagueness was practically spelling out the network progress this week.

Warchant.com had Swofford’s network comments covered this week. 

When asked about those concerns Thursday, Swofford said he believes the conference athletic directors were comforted by what they heard from ESPN executives during meetings this week.

“That [comfort] comes with the development of what we anticipate doing,” Swofford said. “That’s why we’re doing it. That’s why ESPN is in the discussions with us. They like to make money, too. And we like to make money as well … and need to…

…“With technology and so forth, you want to be with people who are progressive and have flexibility, that are willing to adapt. And I think that’s who our partner is. We’re bullish about it, and I’d say they’re bullish about it.”

What does it mean? Isn’t cord cutting going to hurt cable television and conference networks? Swofford had this say.

While there has been discussion in the industry that ESPN will be reluctant to invest in any major initiatives while tightening its belt due to substantial losses in the numbers of cable subscribers nationally, Swofford said that is not a concern. 

There was really no reason for Swofford to say this much. He could have easily said discussions are on going and left it at that. In my opinion after some delay to evaluate industry trends which kept the network from being launched in 2016 or 2017, I feel like the network is very much back on track. I never anticipated it not happening, but like everyone else it was difficult to know where things stood.

I wouldn’t expect a lot more information in the next weeks. We may hear something in the summer,  but it seems the ACC is nearing the end of the network journey.

What might the ACC Network look like? Here is my best guess.

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