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Cable TV providers like Spectrum and AT&T U-verse currently without deal for the ACC Network

As Brooke Cain points out in a report for the News & Observer, the soon-to-launch ACC Network is, currently, on track to be unavailable to customers of Charter/Spectrum, AT&T U-verse, Comcast and DISH Network. The ACC Network is a partnership between ESPN and the ACC.

This isn’t exactly a new problem; issues with coverage and cable providers have existed for a while now. However, with the sports calendar set to flip to the 2019-20 season, those concerns could (or should) be heightened.

The ACC Network has an Aug. 22 launch, and Clemson and Georgia Tech set to play one another on the network a week later (Aug. 29). Time is of the essence. As of right now, there are no cable providers set to host the ACC Network.

(Note: Spectrum is the largest cable provider in the state of North Carolina, which houses the ACC’s home office in Greensboro and four of its charter member programs.)

 

What’s in play?

Early this year in March, satellite television provider DirecTV (owned by AT&T) agreed to add the network and its content. Several streaming options such as PlayStation Vue, Verizon FIOS and Hulu Live TV (which is owned by Disney) will carry the network. However, Hulu Live TV costs more ($44.99 per month) than regular subscription to the service.

With cord-cutting becoming an increasingly large disruptor in the entertainment industry, streaming options are wildly important, too. And Cain notes in her piece: there’s currently no agreement for the ACC Network with other popular streaming services like Sling and YouTube TV.

Complicating matters further, there isn’t an over-the-top (OTT) option to stream the ACC Network for a monthly fee. And as of right now, consumers couldn’t access the ACC Network through the ESPN App — once it uses Spectrum to verify. (This, of course, could change.)

 

The Push for the ACC Network

Two weeks back at ACC Media Days, the network was a huge talking point. That came as no surprise. Several of the league’s football coach mentioned the importance of the ACC Network and what it means for the growth of the league. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney called it a “game-changer.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford addressed it extensively in his de facto State of the ACC Union.

Swofford said the league and its partners are essentially on track; the league’s long-time leader expects the network’s distribution to function on a three-year cyle.

However, Swofford also predicted a negative pushback from ACC fans if the network isn’t available on their TV provider.

(This is just my own perception: ESPN has marketed the ACC Network for months now under the “We Do This” moniker. That launch campaign was the work of Austin-based creative agency Peacher. However, in recent weeks, advertisements promoting the ACC Network and the Clemson/Georgia Tech game have become far more pervasive. Ironically, these ads are going over cable providers that, as of right now, aren’t set to have the network on its launch date.)

Since the conclusion of ACC Kickoff, a social media blitz has unfolded, too. Verified Twitter accounts of several ACC athletic departments or teams have joined in on the messaging.

 

The Response

So far, Spectrum resorted to a boilerplate social media response to inquiries and concerns over the lack of the ACC Network on its platform; this includes a link to request the addition of a channel to the network’s lineup.

DISH Network has followed a similar pattern on social media. According to the company’s network team, its programming staff has been notified about a high demand for the network.

It should be noted that these types of negotiations tend to get done closer to the actual launch date/deadlines. A lot could change over the course of the next three-four weeks.

 

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