Ron Wellman Column: New ACC TV Agreement

May 11, 2012

Earlier this week, the Atlantic Coast Conference signed a new television and media rights agreement with our television partner, ESPN. Unlike the other BCS conferences (PAC 12, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Big East), ESPN is the only television partner for the ACC so they own the rights to all of our games. The new agreement was necessary because of the ACC's addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh in 2013. While the previous contract guaranteed the ACC $1.86 billion for the 12-year length of the agreement, the most recent contract will provide $3.6 billion over 15 years. The average payout for each ACC institution will be approximately $17 million per year over the term of the contract. That amount is more competitive with the other BCS conferences but we are somewhat short of their average payout per institution of those conferences' schools on an annual basis.

How will this affect Deacon fans? The most obvious point of the new agreement is that there will be more events on television. ESPN will carry an additional 30 regular season men's basketball games, 14 additional conference football games, a minimum of 10 more women's basketball games and at least 18 additional Olympic sport competitions. The new agreement also includes a limited number of Friday night games. Both Boston College or Syracuse are capable of playing a home game on Friday night. Wake Forest will not be playing a home Friday night game unless it would be the Friday after Thanksgiving Day.

Among ESPN's plans for the ACC are to continue with prime time football games on Thursday nights and the Labor Day Monday night football game. ESPN will continue to carry the ACC Championship Game. With the ACC men's basketball schedule expanding to 18 games in 2013-14, ESPN will carry additional regular season games and every game from the ACC Championship. The network will also carry the entire women's basketball conference tournament.

In addition, the ACC Network/ACC Digital Network has been able to increase the conference's national syndication package. Last fall, the ACC Network was available in 28 states, 83 markets and in over 58 million TV households

This new agreement, which runs through 2027, also includes awarding title sponsorship rights to ESPN. The conference has the right to approve any sponsorship agreement but it is possible that an ACC championship will carry a title sponsor at some point in the future.

As the viewing habits of Americans continue to change, so will the delivery method for ESPN. Games will be available not just on the ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU television channels but also through ESPN3, ESPN Mobile and ESPN 3D.

With the increased national coverage of ACC sports, Wake Forest fans throughout the country will have more opportunities to watch the Deacs on TV. With our national alumni base, this will help keep Wake Forest fans close to the action for years to come!

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