ACC Lands Big Television Deal
By Brandon Rink
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ACC commissioner John Swofford earned his member schools a hefty raise and increased visibility with a new TV deal.
Remember when a conference landing a multi-billion dollar TV deal was a big deal? Yeah, me too.
A reported 15-year, $3.6 billion extension of the ACC’s partnership with the ESPN (roughly $16 million per school after the ACC takes its share) has been met with varied interpretations, mostly negative.
FSU and Clemson fans seeing the greener grass out in the midwest with the Big XII’s 20 million per school TV deal have found another reason to get out of Dodge. While others are still looking for that elusive SEC offer.
Chumming the Seminoles-to-the-Big-XII water now is everybody’s favorite realignment pot-stirrer, Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com, who dropped a column on the day the new deal was announced laying out exactly why FSU leaving the ACC to be buddy-buddy with Texas and the rest would be attractive (the main point tied to the ability of Florida State to have their very own Longhorn Network-like deal in the Big XII).
Maybe I’m crazy, but how much more cash could ACC commish John Swofford have reeled in…and how?
Football drives TV revenue, and let’s face it, the ACC’s pigskin product hasn't been great. Swofford has made lemonade out of the inconsistent and often frustrating ACC football product with this deal.
Why should ESPN pay the ACC like the SEC? Or even the Big XII?
Yeah, the Big XII was on the brink of extinction not long ago, but a move here or there, and the ACC was too. Both conferences were at the mercy of decisions by the PAC-10 (then), Big Ten and SEC. The Big XII used its new life to add two strong football teams in TCU and West Virginia – the Mountaineers finding a landing spot not worried about the academic reputation that scared away the SEC and ACC.
(As an aside, besides West Virginia – what other reasonable options did the ACC have to go for “football” schools? Swofford is slammed for adding two basketball schools, but they wanted to come and who else did?).
Listen, Swofford and the league office hasn’t been perfect in its realignment era decisions, and this TV deal isn’t perfect either (especially giving ESPN tier three rights), but they added teams last year to assure a place at the table among the top conferences for years to come and they still have an opportunity to move up the ladder. Really, in the position ACC was in survival was the key, and they achieved that.
Moving forward, the ace in the hole could very well be Notre Dame and its national brand partnering with the conference, which has ties to a number of ACC schools already and has played increasingly more games in this area. It’s a move that seemed odd not long ago, but in a recent New York Times report by Pete Thamel, he called the ACC Notre Dame’s “only realistic destination” if they were to opt out of their current situation. Add the Fighting Irish and another school and the conference instantly boosts its nationwide appeal and subsequently the cash flow.
SI’s Stewart Mandel pointed out on Twitter that the ACC has gone from $37 million deal total, pioneering the expansion era in 2005, to $16 million per team (for 14 teams) just seven years later.
Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not bad.
If the ‘Noles and Tigers chase more money in the Big XII, good for them. I don’t think it’s that real of a possibility and I’d hate to see it happen, but they have to do what they think is best for their institution.
In the end, Swofford did his job. He ensured the survival of the ACC and got the member schools a hefty raise and increased visibility with a new TV deal. If FSU and/or Clemson leave, the conference will move on, and that’s something you might not have said a couple years ago.