TV Answer Man, I read an article that the ACC Network executive thinks he will get a deal for his channel on Comcast. Is that correct? Will it happen this month? — Jim, Boston.
Jim, I don’t expect a deal this month, but there could be hope an agreement is done later this year. I say could be hope because the article you are referring to may be inflating what ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips recently had to say on the subject.
Let me explain.
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The ACC Network, which is owned by ESPN (Disney), launched in August 2019 and is dedicated to offering live sporting events and other programming involving teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). That includes such colleges as North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Georgia Tech, University of Miami, Syracuse and, yes, Boston College in your area.
While several pay TV providers such as DIRECTV and Dish offer the ACC Network, Comcast has never carried the channel due to a carriage dispute with ESPN.
However, last Friday, The Richmond Times-Dispatch published a lengthy story on ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips who assumed the top job late last year. Buried deep in the article is a paragraph that says:
“Phillips told his audiences in Blacksburg and Charlottesville that he believes ESPN/Disney, the conference’s partner in the ACC Network, likely will strike a carriage agreement by September with cable behemoth Xfinity/Comcast.”
Sports Illustrated picked up the quote and ran its own story with this headline:
“Jim Phillips Eludes To Potential ACC Network Start Date on Comcast. Relief on the way? It certainly sounds like it for ACC fans.”
The SI article suggests a settlement is near based on the Times-Dispatch blurb.
However, before you get too excited, Comcast’s current carriage agreement with ESPN is not expected to expire until January 2022, four months after Phillips says a deal will ‘likely’ be reached. It’s unlikely that Comcast would negotiate a separate agreement with ESPN for the ACC Network prior to engaging in more discussions for a larger agreement for all of ESPN’s channels, as well as the Disney and ABC channels. (Disney owns ESPN and ABC.) That’s usually not how these things work. Pay TV operators like to settle all open questions in the same negotiation.
Now it’s possible that Comcast and ESPN (and Disney) will begin talks earlier than January 2022, like in September, let’s say. That could be what Phillips is referring to. But there’s no pressure for Comcast now to strike a new deal with Disney/ESPN because its current agreement still has seven months to go.
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Finally, I would note that chances are good that Comcast will add the ACC Network when it does negotiate a new agreement with ESPN/Disney. But I don’t expect that to happen until late this year.
Jim, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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This supposed carriage dispute does nothing but drive current Comcast customers to competitors who don’t have an “issue” with the ESPN family of channels. I have read articles from Comcast that say that ACC games are available on other channels. How many people that are interested in Virginia Tech are going to tune in to an NC State game? Just because it’s in the same conference Comcast DOES NOT make it the same thing as watching your Alma mater or favorite team. I dare say nobody is going to tune in to watch their rival play and ah well, it was just as good as watching my team. So, no Comcast, you don’t have my best interests at heart when you come out with drivel like this that has absolutely no basis in reality. Maybe it makes sense if you don’t follow sports very closely, but for those of us that do and have literally been waiting for you to get your act together for TWO YEARS, it most certainly does not. Stop the infantile whining that you do every time a network increases it’s prices and do what you’re going to do any way (pass the cost along to your customers) and get this deal done already. If you are so worried about not wanting to pass the cost of the ACCNetwork on to all of your customers, fine, do as myriad pundits and lay-persons like myself have suggested ad nauseam and make it a premium channel or subscription channel or whatever term you want to assign to it. It would seem possible to me, but I’m no expert, that you may be able to do this on an interim basis pending a resolution and acceptance of terms by both sides. If not then let it stay as a premium channel. At least in this way those that desire to watch their favorite (read alma mater) ACC team, whether that be Clemson, Miami, Boston College, or Duke, for example, it would be their choice to pay the extra fee to watch, not yours to make a blanket negative decision that has impacted tens of thousands of your viewers. To continue to act in this way shows how completely out of touch you are with your subscribers. There is no evidence to support that you have read, let alone, followed the mountain of advice proffered in your user forums regarding how to resolve this situation. Please just get a deal done already. I know tens of thousands of us are sick and tired of waiting!!!
I canceled Comcast and paid more for Fios just to get acc network. I am sure there are others who have done the same.