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Swofford talks ACC Network

The big news at the 2016 ACC Kickoff had to do with the agreement with ESPN about a new ACC Network.

accThe cable TV landscape has changed significantly in the past 12 months. You might have noticed that; you might have cut the cord yourself, helping precipitate things.

Whatever the case, it’s a different world for those conference commissioner types prone to hyping new TV networks.

Even for those who have the reigning college football and college basketball champions among their members.

“There have been several things written and speculated about the network in recent weeks. I’m sure some of you may have questions related to the network, but I trust you will understand that we’re at a stage in our timetable and process with ESPN where it’s simply not going to be prudent for us to discuss until we reach the launch, the specific business aspects that are a work in progress,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said Thursday, by way of clearing his throat.

Swofford didn’t go fake-news on the speculation about the future of the yet-to-be-launched network, talking about how the 15 member schools are all working hard to build the necessary physical and human infrastructure needed for the summer 2019 launch.

“Preparing to produce and distribute over 1,500 events between the linear and digital networks requires a lot of planning and preparation and obviously some lead time to do it right and launch it in the way we want to launch it,” said Swofford, adding that the conference and ESPN are “extremely pleased” with the progress being made at the institutional level to get ready.

In the here and now, ACC TV will continue to look like it has in recent years, with ACC football showcased on ABC, ESPN, Raycom, FOX regional and ACC Network Extra.

That’s for those of you who haven’t cut the cord. Swofford did muse a bit at the end of his ACC Network talk about that trend and its impact on the sports TV landscape.

“I think we have to really factor in life as it exists today and evaluate the past and how we’ve done things in the past, and does it fit for the future. If it was successful in the past, does it mean it necessarily is going to be successful for the future, and with that comes things like technology and adjusting to whatever technology is there,” Swofford said.

“I think the world today moves a lot more quickly. I think younger people don’t necessarily — I don’t mean this negatively – don’t necessarily have the same pace or attention span to whatever they want to do with their lives. What does that mean to college athletics? What does that mean to putting people in the stadiums and arenas? What does that mean to developing donors at the institutional level as we move forward? Are there generational changes there? We need the analytics there. We need to understand it in order to develop the right approach and a positive approach and successful approach to dealing with it.

“The great thing about where we are is the fact that with our grant of rights, with the television channel, with the commitment that our schools have made to each other, through those avenues, our schools are bonded in this league, in essence, through 2035-36, and we’re bonded with our television partner through that same period of time. So it’s a great opportunity for us to work through whatever we’re going to need to work through, knowing that we’re together.”

Story by Chris Graham

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