What Good Is The ACCN? Really?

Looking for genuine discussion here not necessarily a bunch of "shade throwing" towards Swafford (although every bit of it would be warranted).

What good is the ACCN if it rarely shows live sports? I cannot begin to count how many times it is either showing reruns or "documentaries" when there are live championship events taking place.

What good is the ACCN with a single channel? You can scroll through the SECN, BIGN and PACN to find multiple channels regularly showing live events. Why is it that the ACCN only has a single channel?

What good is the ACCN if it can't purchase (I know there are weird contract issues regularly. Please feel free to discuss their legitimacy or illegitimacy below) games from RSNs. VT games blacked out in the Shenandoah Valley? Seriously?

What good is the ACCN if it isn't working to bring viewers to the table by broadcasting the live events? Who is actually watching all these things that it is regularly airing?

If you want my opinion, the ACC, BIG & PAC (although the BIG has zero incentive to do this now) should take their "alliance" to FOX for the purpose of negotiating a mega TV deal and leave ESECPN.

And as a side note: I don't think theres any way the ACC can survive the next 12 years with the contract it currently has. It's absolutely embarrassing.

OK - would love to hear opinions, ideas and factual statements concerning the ACCN specifically and these types of TV deals generally. Additionally, is there any indication our new Commissioner is working on this?

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The problem is that Swofford gave away too much of our live sports rights to the regional sports networks, leaving precious little for the ACCN to broadcast live.

But yeah, there's no fucking excuse why the ACCN isn't broadcasting live sports from noon to 10pm almost every day during the school year when you know something is going on with at least one sport during those hours. Its insulting that there is always a glut of live ACC content being broadcast on ESPN+ when the ACCN is showing some bullshit fluff ACC Traditions 30 min show or replaying some ACC Tournament game from the mid 90s. Those replays and those fluff pieces are what ESPN+ should be for, not the goddamn live sports that the conference originally signed up for.

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As a side note: the SECN and the BIGN are both showing live baseball... ACCN is showing Packer and Durham rerun from this morning.

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The only good that will come from the ACCN is that likely in the next few years, several schools are going to get sick of the massive revenue gap and bolt en masse to other conferences. GoR won't be worth squat if the conference effectively folds. The ACC feels like the Big East all over again.

yeah, except they can't bolt because we gave away our TV rights for 20 years or some weird thing...

If a ton of the schools leave and the conference folds, who will be left to enforce it? One or two couldn't get away, but if half or more want to leave, the GoR is worthless.

If that happens the conference will do everything it can to find schools to fill the vacant spots and prevent folding. George Mason, Liberty, JMU and a bunch of others would be used to fill out enough spots so that conference still exists. Basically what the Big 12 did or is trying to do.

I don't know if this is true, but how I'd think if I was a member school in a conference that makes more revenue from their TV network contracts. Assuming the conferences already making a lot of money have contracts too. If a school tries to join one of them, one of two things would happen. Either the school isn't a big revenue generator, so the conference wouldn't want them because the network wouldn't be willing to renegotiate to give more revenue to the schools because the new school isn't going to add any more revenue to the network, so the schools would have to live with the existing deal, only split more ways with the new school, and the schools in the conference wouldn't sign up for that. The other possibility is a school that's a big revenue generator who a network might be willing to renegotiate to incorporate with the conference since the network could probably get more revenue, so the schools in the conference would be willing to let them in. The question is do we have those revenue generators? The schools that I'd think might be likely are Clemson and Carolina, MAYBE Duke for basketball, a lot of people hate them, but they do usually go pretty far in the NCAA tournament. Then you have to look at whether the other conferences would want to bring in a school that is likely to take away a chance for one of their existing members to go to the playoffs (in the case of Clemson) or less likely to make the tournament (since not a lot of other schools are going to get W's against Carolina or Duke in basketball).

If I am looking for VT sports, I go to the ESPN App, not the ACCN. I looked at the upcoming schedule for the week. We could brainstorm a better schedule in 2 minutes.

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Even going through the espn is horrible. I mean their UI in general, but ACCN is always buried so deep. Ranked matchup in football or basketball? You have to go past the womens gymnastic rerun on the longhorn network. No knock on the other sports, but why isn't it in the first few live videos?

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I think how easy the interface is depends on the hardware. On the newer fire stick, when it opens to where I left it, and I can back up one layer to the search for Virginia Tech and see what is on, coming on, or available on replay. On the ROCU or 5 year old fire stick I have to redo the search every time. On the iPad/phone it's a pain to even run the search, and it keeps making me reset my subscriber info. I can't even figure out to add hokie baseball or softball to my favorites so I can find the freaking scores. Takes forever to find any NCAA baseball scores, and even then the #2 team in the country which is playing right then, is not on the first page. It says click/press here to watch, then it stalls, gives you a black out notice, and then makes it a pain to refine the live scores. So yes, ACCN is the worst of the not that good ESPN. But the newer fire stick and ESPN app works better for me than trying to find and watch any other way, and checking the ACCN always seem to be a waste of time, because what I want to want is NEVER covered live on it.

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It would be much better if Swofford didn't grease the palms of raycom execs and grant them rights to live content- Like the baseball tourney.

Wasn't the Raycom exec his son?

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Yes

Chad Swofford

Senior Director, New Media and Business Development

Joined Raycom in 2007 as Manager of ACC Marketing and was named Director of New Media & Marketing in 2009. He currently oversees all web and mobile initiatives for Raycom and the ACC Network, in addition to managing the ACC Digital Network. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and is an alumnus of Ohio University's School of Sports Management graduate program. He worked at Boston College prior to joining Raycom.

Just a slight conflict of interest there.

Oh, and notice that funny little footnote at the end.... He was employed by the Athletic Department of Boston College when they were inexplicably invited into the ACC.

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I hate that man more every day.

What good is the ACCN if it can't purchase (I know there are weird contract issues regularly. Please feel free to discuss their legitimacy or illegitimacy below) games from RSNs.

That's not how the deals work.

ESPN owns all of the ACC television rights. Unfortunately, it's apparently baked into the contract that ESPN must sublicense a certain number of games to the RSNs. So that's coming off the top before the mothership starts building their schedule for their own channels.

It would probably cost ESPN more to pay out the RSNs to get those games back than they would bring in with ad revenue.

Okay, so I'm going try to address everything, but I'm taking some things out of order. Let's start here:

What good is the ACCN if it isn't working to bring viewers to the table by broadcasting the live events? Who is actually watching all these things that it is regularly airing?

It doesn't (entirely) matter how many people are watching the ACCN; it matters (more) how many cable companies carry the ACCN.

This is how cable bundles work:

  1. Disney charges cable providers (Verizon, Comcast, etc) a different fee to carry each of their channels (the ACCN being one of them).
  2. Those cable providers pay a negotiated fee to disney (called a 'carriage fee'), a cut of which is passed on to the ACC.
  3. The thing is, even though cable companies can 'purchase' individual channels, households cannot purchase 'just' the ACCN; they typically have to purchase ALL of Disney's channels, or none of them.

So the ACC makes money from any house that has a cable package that includes the disney bundle, regardless of if the people in that household actually watch the ACCN. Which brings us to this:

Is there any indication our new Commissioner is working on this?

Yes - Jim Phillips got the ACCN on Comcast, which Swafford was unable to do. That alone gets us in to an additional 19M homes (if I recall correctly), which will result in a not-insignificant amount of revenue (I think an estimated 20% increase if I recall correctly).

What good is the ACCN if it rarely shows live sports? I cannot begin to count how many times it is either showing reruns or "documentaries" when there are live championship events taking place.

Content is a double edged sword - good content (live sports) may draw more eyeballs, which could (in theory) allow the ACCN to negotiate for higher carriage fees, but it's also more expensive to (1) get the rights to, and (2) to produce.

[EDIT]: As others have mentioned - in the case of the ACC, rights have likely already been agreed to. However, there's still (significant) additional production costs for shooting a live sporting event vs a studio show.

Studio shows and documentaries are very cheap to produce. As an ACC school, we want the ACCN to maximize PROFIT, which means we need to balance costs and revenue.

I have no knowledge of the numbers, but I bet that broadcasting live olympic sports won't bring enough additional revenue to offset the added cost.

What good is the ACCN with a single channel? You can scroll through the SECN, BIGN and PACN to find multiple channels regularly showing live events. Why is it that the ACCN only has a single channel?

The ACC does have a second channel - it's ACCNx.

What good is the ACCN if it can't purchase (I know there are weird contract issues regularly. Please feel free to discuss their legitimacy or illegitimacy below) games from RSNs. VT games blacked out in the Shenandoah Valley? Seriously?

There's actually a whole wikipedia page on this. My understanding is that we got fucked (1) due to Swofford, and (2) due to Sinclair Broadcast group (Jon Oliver did a whole episode on Sinclair, and how they mislead viewers, but I digress). The wikipedia says that this was part of a 12 year deal signed in 2011, so hopefully we only have 1-2 more seasons of this blackout bullshit.

I don't think theres any way the ACC can survive the next 12 years with the contract it currently has. It's absolutely embarrassing.

The thing is, the ACC doesn't have a very good product, thus doesn't have much negotiating power.

Think about your 'average' game from each conference. In the SEC, it's Ole Miss vs Auburn. In the B10 it's Mich State vs Iowa. In the B12 it's TCU vs KSU. In the P12 it's UCLA vs. Stanford. In the ACC it's... NCst vs Pitt? As a casual viewer, I would go out of my way to watch the SEC or B10 game. No way I'm going out of my way to watch NCst vs Pitt (in most seasons). And the thing is, the ACCN is better off than the P12 or B12 πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

At the end of the day, if the ACC wants to demand higher carriage fees and more cable subscriptions, the on-the-field product has to improve. Yes, Swofford left money on the table, but no one could have gotten us SECN/B10N money, because the product pales in comparison.

IMO we need to three straight seasons where VT, Clemson, Miami, and FSU win the majority of their OOC games, do will in the ACC, and at least one of them makes the (four team) playoff every year. That would bring the conference enough national relevance to potentially renegotiate.

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You say that live sports cost more to get the rights, but shouldn't the schools own their rights? Atleast to the extent the ACC owns the schools rights as a collective, but the schools own the ACC. College shorts rights should be cheap to a conference right?

To your point that you'd rather watch the dud SEC or Big Ten game then sure. But VT played Duke in basketball when both were ranked in prime time and no on could watch it because no one really had ACCN.

Top 20 ACC basketball matchups should be a draw to people. It's not the money maker that football is, but Nike isn't paying Duke and Kansas all that money for their football teams.

You say that live sports cost more to get the rights, but shouldn't the schools own their rights?

In THIS case, the expense isn't the broadcast rights, but the production rights. Packer and Durham is probably dirt cheap to produce - it requires 1 (cheap) camera, a phone line, rent for a 200sqft room, and less than 5 salaried employees.

To broadcast a baseball game, you need multiple (more expensive) cameras, you need more employees, you need to cover their travel fees.

I'm guessing it creates less profit.

Top 20 ACC basketball matchups should be a draw to people. It's not the money maker that football is, but Nike isn't paying Duke and Kansas all that money for their football teams.

Top 20 basketball matchups won't fall to the ACCN, they'll stay on abc/ESPN.

The ACCN only gets 'third tier' rights (stuff that ABC and ESPN have passed on).

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But top 20 basketball match ups are falling to the ACCN. Which has to be hurting the league, because I would assume the ACC gets more money from ESPN games than anything on the ACCN.

I don't know if this is true, but assuming it is, ESPN might be putting them there intentionally to push more people to buy the ACCN (which is what your advocating for, correct?)

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That's exactly why our last football game against Notre Dame was on ACCN -- it was gamesmanship with the cable companies.

The wikipedia says that this was part of a 12 year deal signed in 2011, so hopefully we only have 1-2 more seasons of this blackout bullshit.

Looks like we have five more years of the deal. Another reason why adding Pitt and Syracuse sucked.

Content is a double edged sword - good content (live sports) may draw more eyeballs, which could (in theory) allow the ACCN to negotiate for higher carriage fees, but it's also more expensive to (1) get the rights to, and (2) to produce.

Counterpoint -- ESPN already has all of the ACC rights, and there's already a fair amount of content being produced for the streaming outlets.

This is what makes no sense to me...channels are starving for content (as evidenced by the constant reruns in ACCN). That...and live sports = money.

ACC literally has year round sports of interest. Big sports: football, basketball, and baseball. Gaining in popularity sports: w/m soccer, wbb, softball. Cake icing: several "niche" sports that make good numbers in the mid-Atlantic: lacross, wrestling, swimming and diving.

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ACC literally has year round sports of interest. Big sports: football, basketball, and baseball. Gaining in popularity sports: w/m soccer, wbb, softball. Cake icing: several "niche" sports that make good numbers in the mid-Atlantic: lacross, wrestling, swimming and diving.

The issue is, the SEC and the B10 garner far more interest.

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We aren't going to compete against the SEC and B10 in football content, and we shouldn't try. Where the ACCN should absolutely excel is in literally everything else. Basketball, Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball, Olympic Sports. The ACC is one of, if not the premier conference for all of them. The ACC Network should be the one hub of content for all of that kind of content that draws eyes to high quality live sport events throughout the year, and not just leveraging football reruns.

And yet, ESPN is trying to force the issue with ACC football. Of course we can't compete with the B1G and SEC. Part of that issue is that ESPN pays us a small fraction of what those other conferences get and then goes out of its way to shit all over our product (remember the ACC Wheel of Destiny) on their main networks. Of course we are going to struggle, their business model for us is dogshit.

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Per USA today:

Television contracts provide the conferences with most of their revenue, and the Power Five's TV deals get about 80% of their value from football, according to AJ Maestas, the CEO of Navigate, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in college and professional sports rights valuations.

I don't think there is anything we can do to change the fact that 80% of our revenue comes from football. I imagine that the additional profit from broadcasting other sports would be negligible.

The ACC is currently in about 90M households. If carriage fees go up 10 cents (If I recall correctly - which I may not - ACC carriage fees are about 60 cents, so this would be a 16% increase), that's an extra $9m in revenue for the conference, and - if we assume a 100% profit margin - an extra ~$640k per school.

Olympic sports will not move the needle. No carrier is going to add the ACCN because of olympic sports. I don't see a benefit, other than (I assume) losing money to provide better content for a few thousand people.

To be honest - I would much rather the ACC office look at ways to innovate. I want them focusing on ways to make the football product better:

  • Football schedule improvements
  • Promotion/relegation
  • Alternative Broadcasts
  • How the CFP impacts the ACC
  • How can the conference get better NIL deals which will in turn help recruiting?
  • How does the ACC fit into the future of CFB?
  • How can streaming/OTA benefit the ACC in the future?

Not all of the things I listed above are necessarily good ideas - Will Americans be okay with promotion/relegation? Will alternative (school specific) broadcasts be useful? I don't know - but I want the ACC thinking about these things and at least simulating/testing them.

We missed the boat on a cable network. Instead of looking for improvement on the margins, let's focus on getting the next big thing right.

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Highlighting college football during the season? No problem with that at all

Highlighting college football at the detriment of other live sports during the winter and spring? That's bullshit.

And the most frustrating part is that leagues which rake in more money via football don't have this same problem with their network provider. SEC network routinely has baseball, softball, track, gymnastics, etc on. For the ACC? Its mostly football and basketball replays, Packer & Durham and their replays, and a rotating cycle of ACC Traditions replays and some fluff pieces about historical players or teams.

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Honest question - would you rather have "better" content on the ACCN if it meant that VT took home less cash?

I'm speculating - but I imagine that is the tradeoff the ACC office is thinking through.

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I'd love for someone to try and explain how showing less live content and more reruns of garbage programming like ACC Traditions is bolstering up our ACCN revenue. I repeat, the B1G Network and SEC Network don't do that kind of crap and broadcast year round live sports on their networks over a variety of competitions.

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I have discussed this above, speculating that it's not about revenue; it's about profit.

However, after doing some research, I think it might (also) go back to the decision for the ACC to put a lot of the burden of the broadcast on the schools. From the AP:

ESPN generally plans to send production trucks to campuses for college football games, said Meg Aronowitz, an ESPN coordinating producer who worked with schools on their network facilities. Yet broadcasts for nonrevenue sports along with numerous men's and women's basketball games will go through campuses.

"There's not a game that big where we would say, 'Hmm, the schools probably can't handle this level of game,'" Aronowitz said. "They are ready and they have spent a significant amount of money on resources to put some of the best production facilities in the country on campus."

Perhaps individual schools don't want to spend the time/money/effort to broadcast these nonrevenue sports.

Anyways, I find it very hard to believe that (1) airing ACC lacrosse is going to be some big boone for the ACC or (2) that it never occurred to the ACC to televise more live content.

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I could understand and maybe see your point if these live events weren't already being broadcast on ESPN+. ESPN is already getting those feeds. They're already making it available to consumers. They're just not willing to put them on the ACC Network.

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They're just not willing to put them on the ACC Network.

Is there a specific game you're talking about?

I imagine it's due to the fact that those games are blacked out due to RSNs, right?

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I'll use the example of any of the regional softball games that were on ESPN+.

Although, I realize that the postseason tournament could be bound by different contracts.

Although, I realize that the postseason tournament could be bound by different contracts.

They are - ESPN is bargaining with NCAA, not the individual conferences. Just like the NCAA tourney.

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The VT @ UNC baseball series was ESPN+ only despite the ACCN not having any live programming nor the series being on RSN. And the broadcast was basically off of UNC's on campus broadcast feed, with their radio guy on the call, and all the graphics being clearly for their on campus channel.

Mind you, that was a ranked vs ranked matchup. There really was no excuse why that shouldn't have been aired on the ACCN, it wasn't picked up anywhere, but ESPN still was able to get the feed for ESPN+.

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I am in Raleigh and watched the games on ESPN+ because they weren't available on Ballys, our RSN. Had it been on the RSN, it would have been blacked out on ESPN+

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Interesting

EDIT: The one thing I will say, in defense of ESPN (gross) - ESPN+ and the ACCN have different business models - ESPN+ makes money per viewer. ACCN makes money per household (regardless of if anyone watches it).

idk at the end of the day, to make a dent in the ACC revenue problem, we need more ranked teams and better football games. Having four 10-win teams in the conference will do more than any baseball game will.

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Yeah, I think people are speculating that it would cost more money to broadcast live events than the revenue they would produce, but I'm with you in that I'm not buying it. The ACC is every bit as good or better than the SEC in all other sports except football. If you don't promote your product it will never succeed. Besides, I've been watching the Tech Clemson baseball game and it's being produced at a high level. The announcers have been awesome in my opinion. However it's on ACCX instead of the ACC Network. Makes no sense. I've come to the conclusion that ESPN doesn't want the ACC Network to succeed.

That was an RSN game. It actually was on TV somewhere, which is why it had higher production values. If you saw it on ACCNX, then it was likely not on TV in your area. Since there is no Bally RSN in Virginia, that programming usually gets picked up by MASN. But if both MLB teams were playing, it's possible they didn't have an open timeslot.

So ACC fans are going to watch SEC and B10 non-revenue sports vs. the ACCN? To your point, yes I would rather watch SEC wvbb than a rerun of Packer and Durham. But would watch ACC wvbb 100x/100 over SEC wvbb.

My argument is the ACCN has the content and interests for their fans. Why not show the content that you have contract to show?

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Why not show the content that you have contract to show?

Because the cost to air might be too high to justify the revenue. As I said above:

Packer and Durham is probably dirt cheap to produce - it requires 1 (cheap) camera, a phone line, rent for a 200sqft room, and less than 5 salaried employees.

To broadcast a baseball game, you need multiple (more expensive) cameras, you need more employees, you need to cover their travel fees.

I just don't see how olympic sports will bring in enough additional revenue to cover the costs.

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So what you're saying is Packer and Durham is effectively Wayne's World and the ACCN is the equivalent of a local cable access station.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

If the content doesn't make money (or at least break even) then the conference and thus the schools lose money on it.

I'm not sure how you work that logic out. The games are still being broadcast so those resources, paid mostly by the schools under the operation of the ACCN, are still being used and have to be paid for.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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The complaint is that games are not available on TV, so if that's true, they aren't being broadcast.

They are on RSN's or streaming only or for some strange reason on SEC network in the case of a softball game this past week.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Those are rights issues - apparently the contract gives those providers the rights to those events (and they are producing them.)

There is stuff that is not broadcast anywhere - that's the stuff I am talking about.

So, I appreciate all the thoughts here! There's some great insight...

Here's my thing. I turn on the ACCN from time to time and actually see Women's & Men's Lacrosse, Women's basketball (I happen to be a fan of VT Women's basketball, but I'm certain that doesn't move the monetary needle at all) or something of that nature. The ACCN does air olympic sports.

So why aren't we seeing championships? Softball tournament? Baseball tournament? It's just all very strange to me as to what exactly the ACCN is trying to do.

And to the point above made about football being what keeps the whole thing afloat... the ACCN broadcast is so garbage - in literally every aspect. The announcers regularly mess things up (outside of Wes Durham who I happen to think is fantastic). The camera work is likely the worst I've ever seen in any sport. And the overall broadcast seems distant or something (its the sound and lighting or something)...

Part of me thinks ESPN wants this thing to fail so it can continue to choose the winners and losers.

Is coronavirus over yet?

I don't think the lack of quality announcers and production is any conspiracy specifically against the ACC. It's just numbers.

There's only so many good production teams available. On any given Saturday, you have ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ACCN, and SECN all airing three games each. That's 18 games. Sometimes a few of those channels try to squeeze in a fourth game, so we could get up to 20-22 games. No matter how you slice it, you're having to dip down to the C and D or lower teams.

It's 3:04pm on Thursday with an FSU-ND matchup in the ACC tournament and the ACCN is airing a replay of UNC-Wake Forrest football...

Is coronavirus over yet?

FSU-ND Baseball looks like it's on the Bally Sports App.

I have zero idea why this is the case.

EDIT: Bally sports is - you guessed it - Sinclair Group (AKA, RSN) πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜’

This is probably another example of RSN's and Swofford fucking us again

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Bally Sports is what happened to the existing regional network when Sinclair bought Fox Sports a few years back.

And its a massive, massive downgrade from what we had before.

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Yeap - every specific example someone shares, I see that it's being broadcasted on an RSNs. So I think this is probably the root cause of the issue.

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