ACC Network (ACCN) is an American subscription-television channel that is owned and operated by ESPN Inc. Announced on July 21, 2016, it is dedicated to coverage of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and launched on August 22, 2019. The channel operates from ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, though some programming and staff will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
|Launched||August 22, 2019|
|Owned by||ESPN Inc.|
(The Walt Disney Company, 80%;
Hearst Communications, 20%)
|Picture format||720p HDTV|
(downgraded to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Slogan||We Do This|
Goal Line & Bases Loaded
|Dish Network||Channel 402|
|Altice USA||Channel 248|
|Charter Spectrum||Channel numbers vary|
|Cox Cable||Channel numbers vary|
|Available on other cable systems||Channel numbers vary|
|AT&T U-verse||Channel 1610/610 (HD/SD)|
|Verizon Fios||Channel 829/329 (HD/SD)|
|Google Fiber||Channel 221|
|ACCNX on WatchESPN||Watch live|
(U.S. only; requires subscription)
|Sling TV||"Orange sports extra" add-on|
|AT&T TV Now||"Max" package|
|PlayStation Vue||"Core" package|
|YouTube TV||base package|
|HULU + Live TV||base package|
|T-Mobile TVision||base package|
Ahead of the television network's launch and as part of ESPN's new contract with the conference, ESPN launched the digital platform ACC Network Extra (ACCNX) on WatchESPN in 2016, which streams ACC events not broadcast on television.
There had been repeated calls for the ACC to establish its own cable channel, similar to those that had or were being established by other Power Five conferences. From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 (in the midst of realignment that saw Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville announce that they would join the ACC, Maryland leave for the Big Ten, and Notre Dame join the ACC outside of football), the ACC took in less television revenue than the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten conferences. The Big Ten and Pac-12 had already launched their own channels, while ESPN and the SEC had announced the SEC Network would launch in 2014. SEC Network's first year of operation increased the conference's television revenue by around $100 million.
In discussions with ESPN management, there were uncertainties over whether an ACC channel would be economically viable, due to cord cutting and changing television viewing habits. The stability of the ACC itself was also questioned, but was addressed in 2013 by requiring the conference's current teams to grant the ACC control of media rights to all home games through the 2026–2027 season, even if they leave the conference. This policy effectively discourages schools from leaving the ACC, and left the SEC as the only Power Five conference to not have a similar grant requirement. Eric J. Barron, president of Florida State University, stated that the grant would "ensure that the conference will strengthen its position of leadership among Division I athletics", and stated that "we are also very pleased that we will be moving forward on the next phase of developing an ACC network."
On July 21, 2016 at a media event in Charlotte, North Carolina, ESPN announced a 20-year extension of its contract with the ACC, and that it would launch a cable channel dedicated to the ACC in 2019 known as the ACC Network. The announcement was attended by then-ESPN president John Skipper and ACC commissioner John Swofford. Ahead of the television network's launch, ESPN announced that it would begin to stream ACC events beginning in the upcoming 2016 season. Following the announcement, Skipper defended the decision to go on with launching a linear television network, arguing that sports were the most valuable property on television because they are "the only thing you have to watch live".
Each ACC school is constructing production facilities so they can contribute programming to the channel. Its operations will be based out of ESPN's main studios in Bristol, but some programming will originate from Charlotte, North Carolina.
In November 2018, it was officially announced that ACCN would launch on August 22, 2019. Opening night programming included the ESPN Films documentary The Class That Saved Coach K—chronicling Mike Krzyzewski's turnaround of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team in the 1980s. It aired its first football game on August 29, with the defending national champion Clemson Tigers hosting the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
ACC Network is expected to carry 1,300 events per-year. To increase the amount of sports content available, the ACC agreed to expand its conference schedule in college basketball to 20 games by the 2019-20 season. ESPN also acquired the secondary ACC rights previously held by Raycom Sports for its syndicated ACC Network (the company will continue to be involved as a subcontractee for events that can be carried by the new channel).
Mark Packer and Wes Durham host the morning show Packer and Durham, simulcast on ACCN and SiriusXM. All ACC will serve as the network's general news program, while The Huddle airs on Friday nights and Saturday mornings during football season.
As a prelude to the linear channel, and as part of ESPN's new rights package, ESPN's digital platform WatchESPN began to carry broadcasts of ACC sporting events not on television under the branding ACC Network Extra. ESPN promoted that it would carry over 600 live telecasts per-season. ACCNX will continue operations following the launch of the channel, becoming available exclusively to ACC Network subscribers.
ESPN stated in June 2017 that it had reached carriage deals for the ACC Network with unknown providers. In October 2017, Altice USA committed to offering the channel as part of in its latest round of carriage negotiations with Disney. On December 30, 2018, Disney reached a new carriage agreement with Verizon Fios, which included carriage of the ACC Network. On March 12, 2019, agreement was reached with AT&T to carry the ACC Network on DirecTV at launch. Live television streaming services Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and T-Mobile TVision also signed agreements to carry the channel at launch. On August 14, Charter Spectrum agreed to carry ACCN as part of a new carriage agreement covering all Disney networks (including those acquired from 21st Century Fox). On August 29, Dish Network agreed to carry the network on both Dish satellite TV service and Sling TV streaming service just in time to broadcast the Clemson/Georgia Tech football game. On September 4, Cox Communications agreed to carry the network. On September 25, AT&T agreed to carry the network on both AT&T U-Verse and AT&T TV Now.
Deals were also made with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), and Vivicast to carry the channel at launch on various smaller cable TV systems across the country.
Comcast is the only remaining major holdout (as of October 2019) from carrying the ACC Network after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper asked Comcast and AT&T to carry the network and AT&T did so. Forbes magazine criticized Comcast's decision to not carry the college sports network as violating a fundamental principle of marketing: "never give your customers a reason to switch."
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