The Athletic Coast Conference is scheduled to launch its linear cable network next year with the help of ESPN. A lack of a conference network has been blamed by some for the ACC ranking fifth amongst the Power Five college athletics conferences when it comes to per school payouts. Those rankings, including the amount awarded to each conference member, were as follows for 2017.
- Big Ten ($50 million +)
- SEC ($40.9 million)
- Big 12 ($36.5 million)
- Pac 12 ($31.5 million)
- ACC ($26.6 million)
Those payouts go a long way towards subsidizing athletic department budgets and hiring top name coaches and retaining elite assistants. It should be noted that the above numbers do not include the $1 million the ACC gives to each school to reimburse travel expenses to championship events. It also does not include tertiary source payments (such as the Longhorn Network) that the Big 12’s member schools receive.
Luke DeCock from the Raleigh News & Observer sites sources that say the ACC’s leagues office in Greensboro, NC is expecting the new Network’s profits to be high enough to move the conference into the top three.
It’s going to be almost impossible for the ACC to close the gap on the SEC and Big Ten, both of which had a considerable head start on their own (profitable) networks, but the ACC is counting on network revenue – which even in its least optimistic projections should be at least $10 million per school per year, once the network is up and running – to move it past the Pac-12 and even with the Big 12.
DeCock goes on to say that the highest estimations have profits high enough to send as much as $15 million to each of the ACC’s 14 full members and a slightly smaller amount to Notre Dame, who does not participate in ACC football.
There are still a lot of moving parts here. First, the ACC Network is still not even officially launched. Next, there are carriage deals to work out, although with the power of ESPN behind it, the ACC Network should be in a good position.
Still, if these projections are even close to accurate, it would put the ACC Network on stronger financial footing than the Pac 12 Network, even though it will have launched seven years later. Andrew Buchoiltz of Awful Announcing says there is value in the members of the Pac 12 owning their own network outright, but it may not have been the smartest play.
So, the Pac-12 Networks hadn’t yet reached $5 million per school by 2017, five years after launch. And the ACC Network’s forecasting at least double that by the time it gets “up and running.” Maybe that’s an overoptimistic projection, but if it isn’t, that would put the ACC in a nice place relative to the Pac-12, at least on the network side. Of course, it should be noted that the Pac-12 schools still own their network too, so there’s equity value there, but the ACC’s strategy of teaming up with ESPN for a network instead of starting their own sure is looking pretty good right about now.