TV Answer Man, I read articles saying Comcast Xfinity would have the ACC Network in September and some others saying they were close to an agreement. What the heck happened? Why isn’t it on yet? It’s November! — Tim, Boston.
Tim, I’m sorry to tell you that those reports were premature, and based on a mistaken interpretation of the facts. Let me explain.
The ACC Network is owned by Disney and Comcast’s current 10-year carriage agreement with Disney began in January 2012. Normally, carriage agreements begin and end in the same calendar month. In this case, that would take the current pact until January 2022. Consequently, Comcast would seem to be under little pressure to sign a new agreement with Disney, which would include the ACC Network, until it’s close to January.
However, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last May that ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips told a community gathering that a deal for the ACC Network could be reached in September. That triggered a wave of articles saying the same thing.
Now it’s possible that Comcast and Disney planned to begin negotiations early, let’s say in September. But if the January 2022 deadline is correct — and granted, we don’t know that for sure — then there was no urgency to sign a new deal in September. The fact that September came and went with no deal probably tells that there was no deadline in September.
Then last month, Phillips told reporters that a deal between Comcast and the ACC Network was “getting really close.” He didn’t say it was “close,” but getting really close. Of course, several publications ignored the distinction and ran headlines saying an agreement was ‘close.’ This led to more expectations that Comcast would add the channel last month, which, of course, it did not.
I guess they weren’t close after all.
The confusion over when Comcast might add the ACC Network was also exasperated by the cable operator’s ‘contracts renewals’ web page which first listed the Disney channels as being up for renewal in September, then again in October, and yet again in November. As someone who has reported on these issues for decades (literally), the renewals page is not always an accurate indicator of when a contract might be expiring. Cable operators might list channels that are in negotiations, but not necessarily up for renewal in the month they are listed.
That would seem to be the case here.
Bottom line: I have little doubt that Comcast and Disney are talking, but I suspect we won’t see any agreement until December at the earliest. That’s not good news for ACC fans hoping to catch a few games on the 2021 college football schedule. But there’s always college basketball, right?
Tim, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann