It is a significant reason why the ACC and member schools are interested in their own network, similar to cable channels for the Big Ten and SEC. Both conferences have seen television revenues increase dramatically after the start of their networks. This past May, for instance, the SEC projected revenues of $31.2 million per school for the 2014-15 fiscal year, a 49 percent jump from the previous year due in no small part to the launch of the SEC Network in 2014.
“Anything said surrounding our ongoing television discussions is premature and speculative,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “If, or when, we reach a point where our television agreements have been altered, we will make an announcement at the appropriate time.”
Evidently, the request to delay from 2017 is a result of ESPN’s desire to properly time the launch of an ACC channel, wanting to ensure broad distribution with cable operators.
The Big Ten Network faced distribution challenges early on, as it was carried by a limited number of cable providers for the first year of its existence. Likewise, the Pac-12 Networks have had distribution issues of their own.
The SEC Network, with its conference’s rabid following, didn’t have the same troubles, as demands by fans to cable and satellite companies to add the network led to broad distribution from the network’s inception.
Perhaps the league’s strongest selling point to ESPN is its footprint, which extends almost the entire length of the Eastern seaboard and into the Midwest with Notre Dame. Two years ago, the league claimed the highest population (107 million) and most television households (38 million) within its footprint of any conference in the country, an area that includes major markets such as New York, Washington, Boston, Miami and Atlanta.
It probably helps, too, that Florida State and Clemson’s football teams have grown stronger in recent seasons and that the league’s basketball teams remain as powerful as ever.
Regardless, a channel dedicated to the ACC will have to wait a few more years.