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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This year, parts of the ACC football kickoff event were streamed live on the conference’s website.
Next year, it’s possible that it could be broadcast on the new standalone ACC Network, a cable channel being developed by the conference and ESPN.
On Wednesday, commissioner John Swofford said in his opening address that progress on the network is on pace for an August 2019 launch.
“I really want to acknowledge the work done by our schools, their production directors, the decisions that have been made on our campuses for the buildouts that will be necessary for us to have the channel,” Swofford said. “We’re in great shape with that. And the production directors and others have been tremendously dedicated on our campuses. They’ve done an excellent job in preparing for the ACC linear productions, while simultaneously producing over 1,000 games last year for ACC Network Extra, well beyond the 600 which we initially anticipated.”
As part of that process, Pitt is building a new studio at the Petersen Events Center that will serve as the school’s production home for broadcasts originating at Pitt for the network. But the physical structures needed, while the requiring the longest lead time, are just part of the work to be done.
“Just [Tuesday] here in Charlotte, we completed a two-day ACC/ESPN production summit that brought together our school production directors and ESPN’s production leadership to begin the planning process for 2019,” Swofford said. “As you can imagine, with over 1,400 events on the schedule between the Network and Network Extra, there’s a lot of planning and a lot of coordinating required over the next year.
“There are a few big items that we know are of major interest and, rest assured, we are tracking on those. This fall we will finalize the live event programming schedule for the fall, winter and spring sports. Throughout the academic year, we’ll begin the process of considering our non-live program needs and reviewing different show ideas that will be on the ACC Network. And by next spring, we will have identified the talent for the programs that we create, as well as our lead game announcers for all sports.”
Swofford also unveiled the new network’s permanent logo for the first time on Wednesday.
While the cable television market has changed significantly since the signing of the contract between ESPN and the league, it seems as if the partnership is going to continue to go full steam ahead, in spite of a worsening financial outlook for the “Worldwide Leader.”
“Bottom line, whether it’s production, distribution, scheduling or anything else related to the network, I am pleased to be able to tell you that we are right on schedule,” Swofford said.
ESPN laid off 100 staffers in April in response to a growing cord-cutting trend that has seen cable subscription revenues plummet over the last few years. The contract between the ACC and ESPN was signed in 2012 and is worth a total of $3.6 billion through 2026-27.