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ACC Network (syndication package)
ACC Network was a syndicated package of college sports telecasts featuring football and basketball events from the Atlantic Coast Conference, produced by Raycom Sports, the sports syndication unit of Montgomery, Alabama-based Raycom Media (now owned by Gray Television).
The package stemmed from a joint venture between Raycom and Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions, which acquired the rights to ACC basketball in 1982 under the banner Raycom/JP Sports. In 2004, Jefferson-Pilot's ACC football package (which began in 1984) was also moved under Raycom/JP Sports. Jefferson-Pilot was acquired by Lincoln National Corporation in 2006, who would in turn sell its media assets to Raycom in 2006. In 2010, ESPN acquired the rights to ACC basketball and football, but continued to sub-license games to Raycom Sports to continue the syndicated package, which was relaunched under the ACC Network brand. Broadcast games were shown locally on over-the-air broadcast stations, regional sports networks, as well as streaming on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
In July 2016, ESPN announced an extension of its contract and plans to launch an ACC cable channel of the same name in 2019, and took ownership of the ACC rights that were previously sub-licensed to Raycom. In anticipation of the new channel, the "ACC Network" branding during its syndicated telecasts was phased out in 2018. Although ESPN will continue to subcontract Raycom Sports resources for the new channel, Raycom's final syndicated ACC telecast—the 2019 ACC men's basketball championship game—aired March 16, 2019.
ACC men's basketball had been broadcast by Raycom/JP Sports, a joint venture of Raycom Sports and Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions, since the 1982-1983 basketball season. The roots of the current package date to 1957, when Greensboro businessman C.D. Chesley hastily assembled a five-station network to broadcast North Carolina's appearance in that year's Final Four. The Tar Heels went on to win the national championship, and Chesley expanded to a full-season package for the 1957-58 season. Chelsey retained the rights until his retirement in 1981, and then Baltimore-based Metrosports had the ACC rights just for the 1981-82 season.
The first ACC basketball telecast by Raycom/JP Sports was an early-season game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Duke Blue Devils on the night of December 8, 1982. It was uncertain whether this first broadcast was going to happen at all until the 9 p.m. tip-off; many East Coast network affiliates were unexpectedly carrying national coverage of a hostage situation at the Washington Monument, tying up the AT&T network lines required for Raycom to distribute the game.
Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions was the sole producer of ACC football beginning with the 1984 football season, but the Raycom/JP Sports joint venture began to include ACC football for the 2004 season.
In 2006, JP Sports' parent company, the Jefferson Pilot Corporation, merged with Lincoln National Corporation, taking the broadcasting and sports broadcasting divisions with it. JP Sports became Lincoln Financial Sports, thereby renaming the joint venture Raycom/LF Sports. Lincoln announced the sale of its media assets to Raycom Media in November 2007, making Raycom Sports the sole producer of all ACC projects and, from January 2008 until March 2009, SEC men's basketball and football.
In 2010, ESPN acquired rights to ACC football and basketball, replacing Raycom. In a discussion between ACC commissioner John Swofford and then-ESPN president John Skipper, Swofford acknowledged Raycom's long-standing relationship with the conference, and requested that it continue to be involved in some way. ESPN negotiated a sub-licensing agreement with Raycom, which would allow it to continue producing a syndicated package of ACC football and basketball broadcasts. As a condition of the deal, they were rebranded under the new on-air title ACC Network. As part of the agreement, Raycom also agreed to operate the ACC's website and digital properties. It was suggested that ESPN agreed to Raycom's involvement so it would not create conflicts with the SEC Network—ESPN Regional Television's then-new package of syndicated Southeastern Conference football and basketball games, established after ESPN replaced Raycom as the SEC's main rightsholder besides CBS.
Raycom began syndicating the ACC Network beyond the ACC footprint sometime between 2010 and 2013. Beginning with the 2014–2015 academic season, following the discontinuation of ESPN's syndicated SEC package after the launch of the SEC Network cable channel, Raycom expanded the ACC Network's distribution up to 84% of the entire United States.
On July 21, 2016, ESPN announced a 20-year extension of its ACC rights, and that it would launch a new ACC cable network, also known as ACC Network, in 2019, with its accompanying digital platform ACC Network Extra launching in the 2016–17 season. As part of the establishment of the channel, ESPN acquired Raycom Sports' previous package of games. As of the 2018 ACC football season, the ACC Network branding was downplayed from its telecasts, and returned to using the Raycom Sports branding.
Raycom Sports will continue its role as the ACC's in-house digital media partner, and ESPN will subcontract production resources from Raycom Sports for the new channel. Raycom's final syndicated ACC telecast was the 2019 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament final.
Upon its final season ACC Network included:
- 35 CW affiliates (including WTTO in Birmingham, WCCT in Hartford, WTOG in Tampa, WUPA in Atlanta, WNOL in New Orleans, WKBD in Detroit, KPLR in St. Louis and KMYS in San Antonio)
- 32 MyNetworkTV affiliates (including WUXP in Nashville, WDCA in Washington, WNDY in Indianapolis, WUAB in Cleveland, and WCGV in Milwaukee)
- 20 independent stations (including WLNY in New York and KTXA in Dallas)
- 12 Fox affiliates (including WOFL in Orlando and WXIX in Cincinnati)
- 11 CBS affiliates (including WFOR in Miami, WJZ in Baltimore and WBTV in Charlotte)
- 10 NBC affiliates (including WRAL in Raleigh)
- 9 ABC affiliates (including WHAS in Louisville, WPVI in Philadelphia and WTAE in Pittsburgh)
Outside of the U.S., the telecasts could be received in Canada via historic superstations still carried on cable, such as Boston's WSBK-TV, and during its final seasons, WPCH-TV in Atlanta (the former WTBS), as well as over-the-air signals receivable in border markets.
Programming besides live games
- ACC Football Blitz - pre-game in-studio show
- ACC Basketball Tip-off Show
- Kings of the Court
- Tim Brant - play-by-play commentator (Retired 2016)
- Dave Archer - color analyst
- Roddy Jones - sideline reporter
- - host of the ACC Blitz
- Tommy Bowden - co-host/analyst on the ACC Blitz
- Tom Werme - alternate play-by-play commentator
- Renaldo Wynn - alternate color analyst
- "ACC Properties - ACC". theacc.com. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Press Release (July 1, 2014). "ACC Network Has Expanded National Reach" Raycom Sports. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- 2007 ACC Tournament Official Program, page 24.
- Haygood, Daniel (Spring 2013). "Through Part of Seven Decades, From C.D. Chesley to Raycom Sports, ACC Basketball has Gaines Exposure Through Partnerships, Distribution, Innovation" (PDF). ACC Sports Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 20, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
- Wilkerson, Brant (March 11, 2019). "Signing off: Raycom Sports will air its final ACC tournament this week". Greensboro News and Record.
- ACCSlicks.pdf Archived October 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Raycom Sports. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- Smith, Michael; Ourand, John (October 5, 2010). "History with ACC secures future for Raycom". Washington Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- Smith, Michael (October 4, 2010). "History with ACC secures Future for Raycom" (PDF). Sports and Business Journal. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
- "ACC Network will be syndicated in 90 million homes". nbcsports.com. July 19, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- "Art of the deal: How Swofford, ACC, ESPN reached agreement to launch ACC Network". The News & Observer. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- "ACC, ESPN announce new television deal, including launch of ACC Network". syracuse.com. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- "ESPN-backed ACC Network launches in 2019". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- [email protected], Brant Wilkerson-New. "Raycom takes new role as ACC Network plans to debut". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
- "The pilot sails no more: After four decades, ACC's longtime TV partner signs off". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
- "Raycom/Jefferson Pilot ACC Syndicated Package Promotional Brochures (1990-2013)" (PDF). raycomsports.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2018.