The future media landscape for the power 5 conferences: ACC
If you’ve been looking for the ACC Network on cable, you’re not going to find it. Despite four years of negotiations between the ACC and ESPN and tentative 2016 launch, the network does not yet exist. Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that ESPN is dragging its feet:
[ESPN] had come back and said that in some of the other instances where [conference] networks have started, they lost considerable amounts of money in the first couple of years. What’d they like to do is delay the start for a couple of years and do the necessary preparation.
ESPN’s reluctance to launch the network can certainly be attributed to the uncertainty surrounding cable television. In only the last two years, ESPN has lost seven million subscribers and their $6 a month, as sports fans, especially young ones, cut the cord and explore other media options, like streaming services. With a rapidly shrinking customer base and dwindling revenues estimated at $504 million year, ESPN may not be able to afford the ACC Network.
Even if ESPN backs out of the deal, the ACC might be able to charge more for television rights and the conference is very well prepared for the next generation of new media
No ACC network means higher fees
In an interview with The Daily Press (http://www.dailypress.com/sports/teel-blog/dp-teel-time-swofford-2015-kickoff-post.html), ACC commissioner John Swofford let it slip that if the deal for the conference’s network fell apart, “the other alternative is larger rights fees [from ESPN].”
By paying more money for the ACC’s existing television rights, ESPN can avoid the high cost and risk for creating an entire new network while simultaneously appeasing the ACC.
Although the fate of this deal has yet to be sealed, it highlights the growing anxiety about the future of cable television.
The ACC is looking forward
No matter what the future holds, it is clear that the golden days of cable television are over. Recognizing the impending change in the media industry, the ACC has done a terrific job of preparing for the shift to streaming media on multiple devices.
The ACC currently offers its own independently produced digital products through a Chicago-based company called Silver Chalice. The ACC’s digital offerings are considered to be among the best in sports with great production quality and easy access.
While other conferences are trying to squeeze as much money from the cable companies, the ACC is preparing for the future by diversifying its portfolio and offering multi-platform content.
Whether the ACC gets its own network or not, the conference appears to be ready for the future media landscape for college sports.