After several years of rumors and dashed hopes, it appears that the ACC will finally get its own television network. ESPN's Brett McMurphy is reporting that the ACC Network will launch in 2019. Until then there will apparently be a digital version of the network available as early as next month. The digital network will likely be similar to ESPN's current streaming service, ESPN3, where viewers will be able to watch ACC games.
In addition to the ACC Network news, the conference has also extended their TV deal with ESPN through the 2035-2036 season, a 20-year extension. This extension likely includes third-tier rights in football as well as rights to all Olympic sports and baseball. In addition to the TV deal extension, the conference's grant of rights was extended to run until the end of this new TV deal.
One of the more interesting nuggets involves Notre Dame. The TV deal appears to automatically extend Notre Dame's participation in the ACC in all non-football sports. There is also the little tidbit that if Notre Dame decides to join a conference during this deal, they would be contractually obligated to join the ACC.
The Notre Dame news is huge. When the deal was announced, there was some trepidation about what would happen if the Irish decided to join the B1G or another conference. This deal cements Notre Dame's relationship with the ACC and makes what could have been an unstable relationship a worthy deal.
Now the big question on this deal is the payout. Though the annual payout to schools has not been reported, one source has said that the new deal, including the ACC Network, would pay the ACC similar to other top Power 5 conferences. The SEC currently pays out nearly $34 million a year and the B1G is paying out nearly $36 million to schools. Even if the ACC only pays out at $30 - $32 million, it will allow Clemson to compete with other national powers in college football. This is in contrast to the Big 12 where teams get $20 million, plus additional money for their 3rd-tier rights, and the Pac-12 where schools are getting around $25 million.
Clemson has one of the smaller donor bases among the big boys in college football and this deal will allow the Tigers to compete more effectively for coaches, support staff, and facilities. An extra $6 million a year means keeping those 2-3 assistants in football, maybe getting better basketball coaches, or even paying baseball coaches more to stay. It provides the Tigers with options and prevents the AD from making tough choices that will hurt one of the school's many successful athletic programs.
This deal, provided it does vault the ACC into the upper echelon of media deals, will give Clemson a stable home for the next 20 years. Even though there will always be questions about the importance of football in the ACC, this deal ensures that no one will be leaving for a better conference and that if Notre Dame joins a conference the ACC will get one of the most recognized names in college football. As much as we have ragged on John Swofford in the past, he really has set up the ACC as one of the most stable and well-rounded conferences in the country.