The ACC's New TV Deal: Winners and Losers

We've had a day to chew on the ACC's new TV deal with ESPN, a $1.86 billion deal over 12 years that will pay member schools approximately $12 million per year. Let's break down the winners and losers from the ACC's latest payday:

Winners:

  • ESPN. Natch. The WWL adds the country's premiere basketball conference to its already sterling lineup of college sports programming. ESPN adds ACC basketball to their lineup of SEC football, Big Ten football, all but a few bowl games (including the BCS), and oh, by the way, were nearly paid to take the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament off CBS's hands a month ago.  
  • The ACC. Nearly doubled their last broadcast contract, which translates to an additional $7 million to each member school and $7 million to line the conference's coffers (the conference takes an equal 1/13 cut of the revenue). This deal also helps close the gap between the SEC/Big Ten and the ACC, lessening the chances that an ACC program will see $$$ and bolt to either the Big Ten or the SEC. 
  • Boston College. Think BC's athletics program couldn't use another $7 million to fund the 27 other non-revenue varsity programs? The Eagles have the most varsity programs in the ACC. That money will go a long way towards funding the fencing, rowing, swimming, sailing and tennis teams, among others. I think InTheBleachers said it best, non-revenue sports "need to eat." 
Losers:
  • FOX Sports. And to a lesser extent, Raycom. Make no mistake about this deal. This isn't a renewal of the existing ACC TV broadcast rights deal. With this deal, ESPN owns the rights to all ACC football and basketball games. If FOX Sports wants to continue broadcasting their Sunday night hoops game, or Raycom wants to continue their regional ACC football game of the week, they'll now have to buy the rights from ESPN. It's expected that Raycom will continue to run their syndicated package of ACC football and basketball, but I think we'll see FOX Sports coverage of ACC hoops scaled back dramatically (if not completely).
  • Fans without a Broadband Internet Connection. It remains unclear where ESPN3(60.com) plays in this new TV deal, but it's increasingly becoming a matter of shelf space for the WWL. With SEC and Big Ten football already on the slate of games to be televised, my guess is we'll see just as many ESPN3 games as we have in the past, if not more. We'll probably also see the return of a lot of Thursday night ACC games. But really, is that such a bad thing?
  • 9pm Weeknight Crowds at Conte Forum. With ESPN now owning all the rights to broadcast ACC basketball, my guess is the WWL will start to have a much greater influence on the league's basketball schedule. I'll make the leap to say this can only mean more 9 PM weeknight tips for second-tier ACC basketball schools. We have our own set of attendance issues unrelated to start times. While this deal has its benefits in terms of basketball (hey, more basketball games broadcast on ESPN!), this also has the potential to kill midweek attendance for games not against Duke or North Carolina. 
  • Big 12, Pac 10 and Big East. Earlier, I mentioned a little thing called shelf space. With ESPN already gobbling up the SEC, ACC and Big Ten, it's unclear just how much inventory will be left for the Big 12, the Pac 10 and the Big East (if it's even still around) on the WWL. The Big 12 and the Pac 10 are the next two conferences who are next in line to renegotiate their media rights contracts, with both contracts expiring in 2012. Short of getting 1 or 2 channels closer to realizing the dream that is the Ocho, there will be precious little programming time left for the three remaining BCS conferences. Unless the Big 12 and Pac 10 partner to create their own television network a la the Big Ten network, ESPN might not even come to the bidding table in two years. Now this could also pave the way for someone like FOX Sports or Comcast/NBC Universal to buy up the rights for these conferences. But without a second major player at the table, there might not be anyone to bid up the contract like FOX did for ESPN's ACC deal which literally translates to less $ for the remaining three BCS conferences.
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