While a number of major cable companies have not reached agreements with ESPN and Disney to carry the ACC Network, ACC commissioner John Swofford does not appear to be overly concerned. Speaking at the ACC Kickoff on Wednesday, he sounded a hopeful tone that deals will be struck by the time that Georgia Tech opens the season at Clemson on Aug. 29, the first game that will be carried by the new ESPN-owned network.
“I think as you get toward launch, the way distribution works, a lot of these deals happen at the midnight hour, so to speak,” Swofford said.
Disney and ESPN have not secured agreements with Comcast/Xfinity, Charter-Spectrum and Dish Network, which are three of the four largest providers of cable television in the country in terms of subscribers.
“We’re very close with the deals that are going to this point,” Swofford said. “I don’t think there’s any question there’ll be more coming, and maybe even more right after the launch itself, before a game is played.”
The launch of the SEC Network provides some perspective. When that network was launched in 2014, ESPN’s deal with Comcast was announced July 18 of that year. The DirecTV deal was made public Aug. 4, followed two days later by Charter. Verizon FiOS’ deal was announced Aug. 26, in time for the network’s first games two days later.
Cable companies want to strike a beneficial deal, but also are aware of the jeopardy of losing subscribers if negotiations extend past the launch date (Aug. 22).
Swofford also encouraged fans to contact cable carriers to demand the ACC Network and also offered the reminder that, with DirecTV, Verizon FiOs, Hulu and other providers already on board, fans can already access the network through one provider or another.
“There’s a number of ways you can get it,” he said.
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