Next week, Clemson and North Carolina will meet in the ACC football championship at Bank of America Stadium in a match-up that, as of this week, is sold out. John Swofford, the ACC commissioner, has maintained close ties between the conference and Charlotte — a relationship he told me Tuesday could extend to housing an ESPN-backed cable channel if the league and the media company decide to move forward with a joint venture.
Three of the five major conferences have dedicated cable channels already. The Big Ten Network started in 2007 and is owned by the conference (49%) and Fox Sports (51%). The University of Texas, with IMG College and ESPN, launched The Longhorn Network in 2011, which explains, in large part, why the Big 12 doesn’t have a channel. Next came the Pac-12 Network, wholly owned by the conference, in 2012. In 2014, ESPN started the SEC Network, which set a record for distribution (the number of homes the channel is made available in by cable companies). The SEC Network is based in Charlotte at ESPN’s Ballantyne studios.
The ACC, like the SEC, has a long-term contract with ESPN for football and men’s basketball games and, if an ACC cable network is created, it would be done in tandem with ESPN. The current contract with ESPN pays the ACC an average of $300 million per year through 2026-27.
“There’s not much I can tell you at this point in time other than it continues to be a work in progress,” Swofford told me Tuesday when I asked him about the prospect of an ACC channel. “And we’re satisfied with that progress. We’re not yet at a point where we’re definitive in what we intend to do or when we intend to do it, but we’ve got a great partner in ESPN. It doesn’t get any better than ESPN in sports television and our discussions are ongoing.”
Swofford, similar to what industry analysts told me this week, noted that the how and when of a network launch are complex, crucial questions.
“It’s a difficult time right now,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke. “You’ve got issues regarding a shrinking pay-television audience, consolidation of distributors and a lot of new (cable) networks having to buy their way on (to cable systems) as opposed to receiving a (subscription) fee.”
To read the rest of the article visit the Charlotte Business Journal where this story was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling
“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”
An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.
Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.
The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.
The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”