There are fewer than 100 days until the launch of the linear ACC Network.
After years of planning, as well as investments in production infrastructure by Florida State and the ACC schools, the push is on for a successful debut.
The ACC and its schools are already going into the hurry-up offense, pushing fans to call their cable companies and satellite providers to demand that they carry the ACC Network.
“Everybody is just beaming and excited about the ACC network,” FSU women’s basketball coach Sue Semrau said. “I think that’s really important that if people want to see the ACC network we need to make sure we let the providers know.”
The ACC Network will launch on Aug. 22 on satellite provider DirecTV as well as nationwide streaming services like Hulu Live and PlayStationVue. Carriage agreements have also been made with a number of smaller cable companies but absent are deals with Comcast, Charter and others.
What is being done to help leverage a deal? Content is always king and the ACC is scheduling good football games on the new network, which will likely prompt fans to contact their providers.
Defending national champion Clemson will play its season opener at home against Georgia Tech on Aug. 29. Florida State, which is often a ratings winner for ESPN, will play its home opener against ULM on Sept. 7 and ACC opener at Virginia on Sept. 14 on the new network. There will be at least three games on the ACC Network in the first three weekends of the season.
The ACC Network will carry 14 football games in September and there are plans for 40 games in the 2019 season to air on the channel. More than 150 men’s and women’s basketball games will air in the winter on the ACC Network. There’s plenty of good inventory, from the more than 200 regular-season games across Olympics sports to some conference tournaments and likely regionals or Super Regionals for baseball and softball in 2020.
But what if your provider hasn’t made a deal to carry the ACC Network? FSU and other schools are urging fans to contact their cable company or satellite provider to demand that they carry the ACC Network (fans can go to getACCN.com to see if their provider carries the channel).
“We want our fans to know that they need to take action right now – today – and let their cable providers know that they want the ACC Network,” Coburn told Seminoles.com. “We have been talking about the importance and impact of the ACC Network for several years now in helping to level the playing field with what other conferences receive. Not only is it beneficial in terms of the tremendous exposure for all our sports, but the resources it will provide are critical for FSU and every other ACC school to remain competitive at the highest level.”
ESPN has used this strategy before with success. When it helped launch the SEC Network in 2014, ESPN pushed a large number of college football games to Thursday and Saturday nights on the new channel. Fan bases around the SEC pushed hard for the channel, and the result has been widespread distribution both around that league’s footprint and the nation (as well as larger revenue checks to the SEC’s schools).
Other networks, such as those for the Big Ten and Pac-12, have had challenges. The Big Ten Network launched in 2007 and did not have deals with Comcast and other providers in a large number of cities within their geographic footprint. Jim Delany, then the Big Ten’s commissioner, took heat for putting football and basketball games on the league’s network but customers on cable providers chose other options so that they could watch their favorite teams. Comcast and many providers eventually relented and added the Big Ten Network.
Much has changed in the last 12 years. The interest in the SEC Network is one factor. But another critical factor is that people have so many TV options in 2019: cable, satellite and streaming services are all available. It’s likely that some fans will weigh cutting the cord with a cable company or Dish TV and move to an option that will carry the ACC Network.
“I remember when the Pac-12 network launched and how big a deal that was,” said Semrau, who is a Seattle native who graduated from UC San Diego. “They weren’t able to get the providers that they needed. But I think we have enough behind us at the ACC to get that done.”
Many of these negotiations between ESPN and providers go down to the wire. It’s likely more deals will be made over the summer and some could even go into football season.
Even with more than three months until the ACC Network goes live, the push has already begun to make sure fans can watch their favorite teams.