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ESPN Launching 15 Online College Sports Conference Channels, Including The ACC

But not really.


On Thursday, ESPN announced the creation of 15-conference specific channels, including a channel dedicated to the ACC. Unless I'm missing something, this doesn't seem all that different from the Worldwide Leader's current WatchESPN service.

The channels can be streamed to television via Apple TV or Roku, and they will feature live men's and women's college basketball games and replays of college football games. With conference basketball tournaments on the horizon, ESPN is offering a platform for most Division I conferences around the country. Those included are the ACC, America East, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Big West, MEAC, SWAC, CIA, Horizon, MAC, MAAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, Sun Belt and Southland. ESPN plans on broadcasting more than 2,000 live men's and women's games during conference tournaments.

The deal doesn't include the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC because those conferences either already have or are planning to launch their own networks. Uhh ... so what about the ACC?

If this is what will become the "ACC Network," this sounds like bad news for those waiting for ESPN to throw boatloads of money at the ACC. Until the college sports media rights bubble collapses and/or a disruptive broadcast technology emerges, the other four power conferences will continue to widen the revenue gap with money generated from their own dedicated networks. I can't imagine this will become a financial windfall for the ACC and that speaks nothing of the perception hit the conference will take for being the only power conference included in WatchESPN 2.0.

While this deal doesn't preclude the creation of a standalone ACC Network in the future, this news isn't all that encouraging either. But should the "ACC Network" really just become an extra menu prompt on ESPN's WatchESPN service, consider me unimpressed.