The ACC’s member institutions are having to pony up between $110 and $120 million to launch the ACC Network. It will cost nearly four times what SEC schools spent to launch the SEC Network.
Why so much? Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing explained that on campus facilities need to be built or simply improved in order to create content on location.
Well, many of those costs are about higher requirements at launch. Schools are expected to be capable of producing multiple linear-quality broadcasts at once, in addition to digital broadcasts and videoboard content. Each school will have four to five control rooms, with at least two with linear capabilities, and there are plenty of further costs out there, ranging from $100,000 for a camera platform to $1 million to run fiber-optic cable from the venues to the control rooms. Oh, and at some schools like North Carolina, there are major construction or renovation costs (around $4 million in the Tar Heels’ case) just to get suitable space for these control rooms.
And that’s to say nothing of the workforce needed. For example, Virginia Tech has already hired operations manager Eric Frey and chief engineer Sam Jones from Arkansas given their experience with the SEC Network. And schools are all putting together staffs of students who can handle production duties, with some of those staffs including up to 60 people. So that all adds up. It’s not the same cost for every school, as some already had more advanced production facilities and some are choosing to invest more than others, but it’s a hefty cost; Smith notes that Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame (which competes in the ACC in most sports, but not football and hockey) and Virginia Tech are all expected to spend around $10 million, and in Virginia Tech’s case, that’s a 40 to 100 percent jump over the $5-7 million they’d initially planned on.
Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily says the investment is about being proactive. Some SEC schools have only just reached the standards ESPN has set, and the network expects those standards to evolve in the future. It makes sense that ACC schools want to get in front of any expected evolution that they can.
Last month Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer reported that the ACC is estimating a pay out of $10 to 15 million per school. The network will face the same carriage issues many other conference-owned networks have, but the association with ESPN and the chance that ESPN could bundle the new ACC Network with the SEC Network may give it an advantage in that arena.