Well, it's finished, and even though it's not quite as exciting as we had hoped, it's not bad: the ACC's TV rights will be headed to ESPN, and in entirety.
Details are starting to trickle out, even though a deal hasn't been finalized. I have to say, I'm feeling a lot better about this whole thing than I was when I first found out about it. It's not groundbreaking, but it'll get the job done. Here's what you need to know about the deal:
- It's better than we through it would be. When I heard that it was ESPN, I was unpleased. They were already paying out to the SEC and B10 in absurd portions, and I had basically assumed that the ACC - which doesn't offer near the brand name, TV market, or football presence as the other two - would get the short end of the stick. And even though they definitely got less than the other two, the gap was narrower than I had expected. The deal will pay out $155mil per year, which is nearly twice what the ACC was getting. That translates to about $7mil more per year for each school, and that's not bad money. Not SEC-level dough, but good enough to keep me content.
- Thanks, Fox Sports. The reason the deal is markedly better? Fox Sports made an unexpectedly strong bid for the conference's rights, and reportedly drove up bidding by more than $35mil per year. That's basically half of the increase each school sees. So, yes, without Fox Sports there to make a strong bid, this deal would've been pretty bad.
- More money for Maryland. UMD was hardly breaking even with athletics, and had to severely cut back the budgets because of it. But with an extra $7mil to play with each year, the athletic department can fund more recruiting, more events, and yes, hold onto all 27 teams. The previous deal was very limiting in this regard, especially for a mid-revenue school like Maryland; now there's some wiggle-room.
- It's not an extension of the past deal. It used to be that ESPN owned the football rights and Raycom bought individual games, while Raycom owned the basketball rights and ESPN, FSN, and CSN bought from them. That meant few basketball games were on the bigger networks. That's not the case anymore; ESPN owns the rights to both sports, and then other networks, like Raycom and FSN, will buy games directly from them.
- More ESPN, but Raycom's still around. That basically means that, yes, we'll start seeing more games on ESPN (especially basketball, thankfully) but Raycom won't disappear, especially not on the football front. And yes, this also means that ESPN3(60) might have an even more prominent presence in our lives.
- In the long run, it may not (or may) make a huge difference. Even if the deal does last 12 years, there's a good possibility that it won't have that much influence. For one, it's not close to enough to convince Maryland (or at least me) to turn down all the money that the Big Ten would offer should they call. Secondly, there are almost certainly rights (on both sides) to renegotiate should the conference make-up change. At this point, that's a distinct possibility. Of course, it's also a distinct possibility that neither happen, and then the ACC has this deal for the next decade.