At long last, ACC Network appears on Comcast, but only temporarily

Comcast subscribers who’ve long waited for the cable provider to pick up ACC Network were given a glimmer of hope Sunday night. Unannounced, the two-year-old channel popped up on a channel usually reserved for SEC Network overflow programming.

With an agreement between Disney (which owns ESPN, of which ACC Network is part) and Comcast that would include the channel widely expected, social media and message boards for various ACC schools stirred with excitement, interpreting the addition to mean that a deal had been struck.

However, by Monday morning, once again, ACC Network was nowhere to be found on Comcast.

As it turned out, the temporary airing of ACC Network was merely an operational mistake by the distributor, according to a person familiar with the situation. ESPN had inadvertently put the channel on Comcast in its effort to keep its networks on air during Tropical Storm Henri. Comcast was not the only distributor affected.

As that news broke across Twitter, fans reacted predictably, expressing their enmity for Comcast, ESPN and the ACC alike.

The failure of Comcast and ESPN to reach an agreement to pick up ACC Network, which launched in August 2019, has been a source of frustration for Comcast-subscribing ACC fans, as the network has carried dozens of the league’s football and basketball games, as well as for other sports. The network carried four Georgia Tech football games in 2019 and two more in 2020 along with numerous basketball games. The Sept. 4 season opener against Northern Illinois will also be on ACC Network. The distributor has a significant base in Atlanta and in other conference strongholds.

However, there is hope that ACC Network will appear permanently on Comcast in the near future. The media company’s contract with Disney is to expire before the end of 2021, and the two sides are negotiating a new deal that will include the ACC channel.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips told the AJC in July that “we’re hopeful to come to an agreement with these cable providers that aren’t carrying the network, and that’s anytime between now through the end of the year.

David Teel of the Richmond Times-Dispatch tweeted Monday that a deal is “still expected in coming weeks.”