Over the last few weeks, much of the talk in ACC country has been focused on the prospects of an ACC Network especially with the recent ACC Meetings. There have been plenty of rumors circulating about progress towards an ACC Network along with an unconfirmed rumor that ESPN owes the ACC $45 million if an ACC Network isn’t started this summer.
Most ACC fans are likely excited or intrigued by the idea of an ACC Network but to any Virginia Tech fans(and ACC fans in general) who are skeptical about an ACC Network or don’t want to see this happen, here’s why you should be.
For the 15 ACC athletic departments, finding new sources of revenue is critical and this has the potential to be a significant revenue source for the conference. After the first year of the SEC Network, the SEC’s revenue that it distributes to the member schools increased by $160 million. There could have been a couple of other factors that also boosted revenue but a large amount of that had to come from the SEC Network.
Even if the ACC Network raises $45-60 million, that still would be $3-4 million per school. That amount of money could help pay for the renovations to English Field or go toward paying for the ever increasing scholarship bill while also giving Virginia Tech the option of expanding their athletic options to include other high profile non-revenue sports including men’s lacrosse, ice hockey, field hockey, and gymnastics.
Every athletic director in the ACC knows the potential revenue windfall that this could bring and in a time where collegiate athletics have become a major arms race, filling the coffers with more money from whatever source is necessary.
Across the board, having an ACC Network will be better for exposure whether it be for football, basketball, or other non-revenue sports. Having an ACC Network won’t lead to the top ACC games being on the ACC Network instead of being on ESPN, but what it will do is centralize many of the mid-tier ACC games that usually are played on local stations via the current “ACC Network” setup.
This will also give a better home for mid-tier basketball games that usually would bounce around local sports stations while almost guaranteeing that every ACC football and basketball game will be televised. In addition, the network will be a great home for many of the top baseball, soccer, and softball games other than for a few that should be on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.
The addition of an ACC Network will also allow for more events to be televised more than just online whether that be the ACC Championships in sports like wrestling, track and field, and cross-country or even big wrestling duals. An ACC Network also will help bring more exposure to each university as a whole even if it is just in the ACC region.
As the last points states, a lot of this is based on the fact that any athlete that comes to an ACC school will now receive more exposure regionally and slightly more nationally. One thing that won’t happen again will be Virginia Tech’s Spring Game not getting televised and therefore recruits not getting to see the tremendous fan support that the Hokies have other than through social media or recruits getting to see the new Virginia Tech offense.
Future athletes of all sports will also have a place where they can be talked about by analysts on a regional TV setting that can be shown to everyone from their home state and people around the country. This will also give every school more exposure in some talented recruiting states from Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas to Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey and even in to Midwest states like Ohio and Indiana with the presence of Notre Dame and Louisville.
The ACC will also be on the same playing field as the Big 10 and SEC as conferences that have major networks backing their sports networks nationally (Big 10-FOX, SEC-ESPN). In an age where being somewhere that you can get major exposure at is important to recruits, an ACC Network will only make that even better for athletes at all programs.
4. Potential Fan Impact
The addition of an ACC Network should lead to games being shown at more reasonable time slots nationally. The addition of an ACC Network could lead to two weekly time slots for ACC games at 3:30 and 7:30 that would be much more preferable to many fans relative to the noon and 1:00 kickoffs that currently frustrate many fans due to the regional distribution of “ACC Network” games.
Fans that also can’t get to weeknight basketball games may not have to worry about trying to get on their computer to see a game as an ACC Network would likely lead to at least three to four weeknight basketball spots on Tuesday through even Thursday while also potentially opening the door for a second Sunday night ACC game to follow a game on ESPNU, allowing fans to watch a game they wouldn’t have probably otherwise on a competitive Saturday afternoon TV schedule.
Fans that live farther away from their favorite school could also get more invested and be able to casually watch more of the non-revenue sports like baseball, softball, soccer, and wrestling which could also be shown on an additional ESPN3 like ACC streaming service leading to more fans getting invested and potentially giving bigger donations or starting to donate to their school’s athletic and academic programs.
Getting fans more engaged can also help with ticket sales among alums who might not have been so apt to visit their former school but have regained some of their passion for their school through watching them compete in multiple sports regularly.
Once again, this is somewhat hypothetical and it’s unknown how much the fan impact could really be, but this could be the extra little kicker that really makes the ACC stronger than any of the other reasons would outside of the financial windfall from a true ACC Network.