ACC, ESPN come to terms on deal

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RALEIGH, N.C. --- The Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN have agreed to a 12-year deal that would give the network exclusive rights to conference football and men's basketball games.

A person familiar with the agreement said that it's worth $1.86 billion over the 12 years. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial terms were not released when the two sides announced the deal Thursday.

That would double the league's annual TV revenue when the contract begins in the 2011-12 season. It would also give ESPN syndication rights that would allow Raycom Sports to carry games and maintain its long-running regional broadcasting relationship with the league.

Partnering with ESPN ends talk for now about the ACC following the lead of the Big Ten by creating its own television network. Commissioner John Swofford said the league did its "due diligence" by researching the issue, but said the ACC opted to avoid the upfront startup costs and the financial risk in favor of utilizing ESPN's in-place broadcast and multimedia outlets.

"When you go with somebody for that kind of money with no financial risk and they have the extensive platforms they have to distribute your games -- plus they have the technology and the desire to be on the cutting edge with new media -- it really begs the question: why would you need your own network?" Swofford said.

The agreement marks the first time the ACC has negotiated one contract to bundle broadcasting rights for football and basketball. The previous deal brought in an average of about $72 million in TV money annually, which the league distributes evenly among its 12 members -- an average of about $6 million per school.

By contrast, the ESPN deal would bring an average of $155 million in TV money per year, an average of more than $12.9 million per school.

Those payouts don't include money from bowl games, NCAA tournaments or any other revenue the league distributes to member schools.


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