After the Big Ten, SEC and Pac12 conferences put together television networks other major conferences, the ACC in particular, wondered when they would get nearly unlimited coverage of their network. Fans wanted to see more of their teams and wanted the big pay days that schools in the SEC and Big Ten were getting.
However, the Pac12 stood as a cautionary tale, and thus far the ACC is nowhere close to having its own network. Although the Pac12 Network has made some money, it pales in comparison to what the SEC and Big Ten networks have done. The Big Ten and SEC partnered with Fox and ESPN, respectively, in order to create, promote and distribute their networks. That worked well. The Pac12 tried to create their own wholly owned group of networks and things haven’t gone well.
Why does all this matter for the ACC? The lesson they’ve learned from the other networks is that they need a powerful partner to create, promote and distribute any network. The ACC, like several other conferences, is closely tied to ESPN, who would be an ideal partner for the conference. However things look very different for ESPN and its business model than it has before. In a piece at Gridiron Now, Chadd Scott writes:
ESPN has been hit particularly hard by cord-cutters and as the ACC’s primary media rights partner, the company likely doesn’t have the same gusto for launching an ACC Network as it did the SEC Network.
Cable companies no longer are interested in adding more sports networks and passing the costs on to consumers who, in large numbers, don’t want them.
This is not to say that ACC fans will never get to see as much of their school’s teams as they would like. That may well be coming, but it would probably not be on the same model the SEC and Big Ten have had so much success with. Scott gets into that in his article as well.
For those fans who want to be able to switch channels to see all their conference’s baseball games or other sports, that may not be happening. The ACC is the victim of timing. If they had tried to launch their network four years ago, could it have worked? Maybe, but it appears dead in any traditional form at this point.