CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Atlantic Coast Conference is roughly a month away from launching its new ESPN-partnered TV channel and still awaiting key deals with several cable providers to carry it.
The league and its schools need help from fans on that front.
Schools are posting messages on social media asking fans to contact cable providers and request them to carry the ACC Network ahead of its Aug. 22 launch. Several even have put messages atop their official athletics webpages urging fans to “demand” the network. And it’s a frequent talking point for school officials.
In an interview with The Associated Press, league commissioner John Swofford said those are coordinated efforts in a strategy directed by Disney-owned ESPN.
“This is something where you reach a point in time where pros sort of take over,” Swofford said Thursday during the ACC media days. “And the pros in this instance are ESPN distribution and Disney distribution. I think we’ve done our part and will continue to do our part at the institutional level and the conference level so we are a part of that. But you can only do so much, and that’s where we are at this point in time.”
ACC officials hope channel revenue closes a growing financial gap with its power-conference peers. The threshold for success remains unclear since the league hasn’t publicized financial projections for the network.
There are deals in place with several providers, including direct-to-customer services such as Playstation Vue and Hulu. There are no deals in several key markets of the league’s footprint, though Swofford has previously noted last-minute distribution deals are common in a process he called “stimulating” but also “stressful.”
“This network is a big deal and it needs to work,” Swofford said. “And I’m very confident that it will.”