With the ACC Network a little over a month from its Aug. 22 debut, ESPN is still negotiating with major cable and satellite providers for carriage, but as David Glenn explains at The Athletic in this thorough update on the proceedings ($), the new venture is already on solid footing.
For one thing, it already has a distribution agreement with DirecTV. Glenn says that the ACC Network should launch with around 20 million subscribers, which is comparable to where the SEC and Big Ten networks were at their respective launch dates. And it’s already ahead of the Pac-12 Network, which after seven years still has only about 19 million subscribers. (And no agreement with DirecTV.)
The Big Ten (Fox), SEC (ESPN), and now the ACC (also ESPN) partnered with a major media presence to launch a network. The Pac-12 did not, and that’s the lesson here. While the ACC’s channel may never match the profitability of the Big Ten’s or the SEC’s, I don’t think it’ll take long to lap the Pac-12.
Among other takeaways, the big thing is patience—negotiations with major carriers may go down to the wire for the ACC/ESPN, but that’s not unusual. So if you don’t have DirecTV (or one of the streaming providers listed here), it’s not time to panic about missing basketball and football games.