Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How the ACC's dumb Raycom deal turned out to be smart

During the last ACC TV rights deal, ESPN bought the rights to all the conference's content. However, the old guard on Tobacco Road didn't want to leave their long-time media partner Raycom out of the package. So all agreed that ESPN would resell certain games back to Raycom for Raycom to then produce and distribute. (When you see the ACC Games on regional sports networks or your local broadcast station, those are Raycom productions.)

At the time many critics found the Raycom deal outdated and provincial. The ACC was keeping old friends happy at the expense of more dollars from ESPN and should have spent that energy pushing for its own ACC Network. ESPN didn't care. They got to resell games and reserved the right to all the content if and when the ACC put together a plan for the ACC Network. Basically the ACC Network couldn't happen during this contract without ESPN's involvement. 

But I don't think anyone truly anticipated the rush to cord cutting. Cable companies are bleeding traditional subscribers and ESPN is suffering from it. ESPN's rights fees and those expensive Network deals with Texas and the SEC are partially to blame. With a cloudy future and questionable business model the ACC Network seems less likely by the day.

But that is where the Raycom deal comes back into play. Because of that deal, the ACC is the only Power 5 conference with a traditional "over the air" syndicated distribution package [UPDATE: I forgot to mention the SEC's CBS deal. So the ACC is the only Power 5 where their secondary games are syndicated over the air. Pac 12's Fox deal is based on Fox powering their Network. All ABC games are part of ESPN cable deals. Notre Dame is not in a conference.]. You don't have to worry about cord cutting when there is no cord to cut. By having a traditional model for games the ACC/Raycom can sell advertisers consistent ratings and a growing audience. Right now the typical ACC Raycom advertiser is Carolina-centric (Bojangles, Food Lion, etc.) but that will change. I imagine the growing footprints and over the air aspect will get more national ads in the next few years. 

The Raycom games that are not over the air, are carried on regional sports networks (Fox Sports Whatever, NESN, etc.). This is also good for distribution. Those networks are not going away immediately and need content on late fall Saturdays after baseball ends. They are exposed to cord cutters but are not as controversial or as expensive as the new college network startups or any of the ESPN channels. 

Would the ACC like to have the SEC's or Big Ten's money right now? Of course. But what was once the table scrapes of the college football media world, now looks a whole lot better than it did at deal time. I still think there will be an ACC Network in the future, but I think the Raycom experience will change the way the channel is created and distributed. 


Hoib said...

This followed to it's ultimate conclusion could be bad for us. We are a valuable commodity now because we are in a large metro area that generates allot of revenue from people who never watch any of our games. If the sport gets to a funding model whereby the people actually watching the games are the only ones paying, we have issues.

ATL_eagle said...

I don't think so. Although we don't generate the ticket sales that other Power 5 conferences do, we still are in big markets. Commercials on a UHF station in Boston are more expensive than a UHF station in Dothan, Alabama. And traditionally ACC teams do well on TV. Live sports has a growing value and we are partnered with people still driving revenue from ad sales, not cable subscribers.

Hoib said...

Not so sure. I'm in the NYC metro area. I don't have a super sports package, but BTN is part of my deal, it's why they took Rutgers. I've never watched a game but they still get my money. I bet subscribers who don't watch Rutgers verses do are 100 to 1. This is ultimately what cord cutting is all about. It'll take a long time to play out though. You are right though, over the air broadcast can mitigate some of this.

eagleboston said...

Hoib, you don't watch the Big Ten? There have been some great games from that league this year. I love Big Ten football. Lots of tradition and great rivalries.

Hoib said...


I agree, but don't have the time. I only watch BC and The Jints. I'm a golfer, so allot of the time I'm watching the games taped. I was a big buckeye fan back in Woodies day. Loved Woody.

eagleboston said...

I do appreciate that I can watch every single game. I remember just a few years ago, only half of the BC games were televised.

Tim said...

I cancelled cable this year and haven't looked back. Good riddance.

Hoib said...


Good point, probably the reason I'm a Woody fan, and hate ND so much, is that when I was a kid there were at most 2 games on a week. They always featured the national powers. The good side of it was all the games were on during the day.