Xfinity/Comcast, the largest television provider in Virginia and the United States, has agreed to carry the ACC Network, giving the nascent project full national distribution in just its third year.
The multi-year extension announced Tuesday by the Walt Disney Company and Comcast encompasses the full Disney portfolio, including ESPN, the Disney Channel and National Geographic. Their previous long-term contract predated the ACC Network’s 2019 launch and did not expire until this fall.
With Comcast’s approximately 20 million subscribers, the ACC Network will now be available in nearly 90 million homes, according to ESPN. Details of when the network will be debut on Comcast “will be available in the coming weeks,” ESPN said in a news release.
“We are thrilled that ACC Network has reached full distribution with the addition of Comcast to our already robust lineup of providers,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in the release. “ACC Network, led by Jimmy Pitaro and Burke Magnus, continues to be an outstanding partner that does a tremendous job of showcasing our student-athletes, coaches and programs. This is a milestone moment in the short history of ACCN, and we appreciate the continued leadership at Disney, ESPN and ACCN for working diligently to make this a reality.”
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A joint project between ESPN and the conference, the ACC Network launched Aug. 19, 2019, with initial distribution beyond projections. Comcast was the final void, and the network’s absence for three football seasons was keenly felt in Virginia, a robust Comcast market.
For example, the ACC Network had exclusive coverage this football season of five Virginia Tech games and five Virginia contests. That fare included the Hokies’ marquee date with Notre Dame, the Cavaliers’ game at North Carolina and, for the second consecutive year, the Commonwealth Cup clash between Tech and UVA.
Each of the ACC’s 14 football teams played on the network at least three times this season. ACC men's basketball begins its 20-game conference schedule this week, with nine UVA contests and seven Virginia Tech games ticketed for the ACC Network.
Anchored the Packer and Durham daily morning show from 7 a.m.-10 a.m., ACCN annually televises more than 500 regular-season and tournament games from the league’s 27 sports.
Distribution for the network has been a priority for Phillips since he succeeded John Swofford on Feb. 1, and he traveled to ESPN’s Connecticut campus during the spring to plead for assistance.
Without access to contracts among television providers and networks, it’s impossible to know how much landing Comcast will net for ESPN and the ACC. But in a podcast this summer with Dan Le Batard, former ESPN president John Skipper generalized that a cable subscriber residing in a state within a conference's footprint is worth approximately $1 a month to that league's network.
In state's outside the footprint, that value drops markedly. The ACC encompasses 10 states, and the addition of Comcast likely will add several million dollars to each school's annual distribution from the conference.