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ACC Network set to launch. Can I watch it? How do I cut the cord?

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With just two days away to the launch of the ACC Network, the time is now for many Florida State fans to create a game plan.

FSU fans who are on Comcast, Cox, CenturyLink and Dish Network are among those who – barring a last minute deal – will be left in the dark when the ACC Network launches on Thursday at 7 p.m.

CenturyLink opted out of a deal to carry the channel on Tuesday, a source told the Osceola. Comcast, Cox and Dish Network have not reached an agreement with Disney, the parent company of ESPN (and the ACC Network).

What should FSU fans do? Here’s your viewer’s guide:

Where can you get more information?

Your first step is to go to www.getACCN.com and type in your zip code to see what carriers will air the ACC Network at launch. DirecTV and Charter-Spectrum are the largest providers who will carry the channel, while streaming services like YouTube TV, PlayStationVue and Hulu Live have also made deals to carry the ACC Network.

Why do you need the channel?

The programming will be worth it. And the games won’t air on ESPN+ or online. You must have service with a provider that has made an agreement to carry the ACC Network.

What’s on the ACC Network?

Some early programming has been established for the ACC Network. FSU will play two September football games on the channel – Sept. 7 against ULM and Sept. 14 at Virginia – and 12 other football games involving ACC schools have already been scheduled for the network.

The FSU soccer team, which looks to defend its national title, will also play Sunday’s game on the ACC Network and at least six more this fall on the channel. And more than 150 ACC men’s and women’s basketball games as well as Olympic sports programming will be added in the coming months.

There will also be documentaries, including the Bowden Dynasty. The 2017 documentary on the FSU coaching legend will air in September. (For more on the documentary, Osceola publisher Jerry Kutz did a podcast with Bowden and filmmaker John Corry that you can listen to here.)

And there will be plenty of analysis, including that from the likes of former FSU quarterback EJ Manuel and longtime FSU assistant Mark Richt, who stepped down as Miami’s coach in December.

How can you cut the cord?

Before you contemplate switching providers, evaluate if your house or apartment has good high-speed Internet that is capable of streaming programming. If you live in a rural area, where Internet speeds are often much slower, you may be limited to DirecTV (Dish Network has not yet signed a deal to carry the ACC Network).

From there, you need to decide how to watch programming.

If you have high-speed Internet, you have options. You can use:

A smart TV that has streaming capabilities built in.

A BluRay or DVD player that connects to the Internet via WiFi or Ethernet cable.

A video-game system that can connect to the Internet.

A smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. This gives you added portability – watch a game or show in the backyard or on the go.

A streaming device like a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast or AppleTV are options for those who want to stream programs to a TV. All are quite small and could fit on a drink coaster or insert directly into a USB port on the side or back of your TV via an HDMI cable. The price ranges from $29 to $89 for these devices (check to see if the purchase of the device includes an HDMI cable and if it’s long enough to connect to your TV). After the cables are connected you just need to follow the prompts, enter a credit card for payment to a streaming service and you can be up and running in under an hour.

If you’re comfortable setting up a new tech toy, this is a good option. If you’re not, think about a family member or friend who has cut the cord or streams TV shows and movies off Netflix or Amazon Prime and ask how they stream.

What do the streaming services cost?

Packages on Hulu Live start at $44.95, PlayStationVue at $49.95 and YouTube TV are roughly $49.99 per month. Most offer a free trial period so that you can take a test drive. You’ll also want to make sure that the package you pick includes the ACC Network.

There is a downside to using a streaming service as there is a delay between when a game is played and when the game is shown (in football, it’s typical to be at least a play behind). There is occasional buffering that will cause a program to momentarily freeze on a TV and changing channels will require a few more buttons to be pushed on a remote than with a traditional cable-TV setup.

But even with some of the kinks that come with what is a relatively new concept of streaming live sports, it is a better option than missing an entire FSU game.

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