Then There was One.
As of next month, the Big 12 will be the only Power 5 Conference without its own network.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN are expected to announce within the next 48 hours that they will partner up to produce an ACC Network.
The first couple of years will be available only over the internet, and you must have a pay subscription to receive it. It will be available as “ACC Network Plus,” bundled into WatchESPN, the streaming service that’s available to everyone who gets ESPN via a pay TV service.
The digital-only network will up and running by football season, and the linear network will come on line in 2019.
There are a couple of reasons for putting it out on the internet to begin with. First, ESPN promised to have something in the works by the end of July 2016, or it would owe the league $45 million a year above what they already pay for media rights.
It is also another test of a method of product delivery that many believe ESPN will expand as they continue to have a “cord cutting” problem of losing subscribers — over 7 million have left in the past three years. You can expect ESPN to explore bundling their niche channels (including LHN) and offering them as “over-the-top” components, content delivered directly to viewers via the Internet, known as OTT.
The delay to a linear model will also help the ACC members build up their production facilities.
Another interesting aspect is that the conference’s Grant of Rights agreement will be extended to 2036. That means Notre Dame isn’t going anywhere for at least a couple more decades.