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How Fox May Have Saved The ACC As We Know It

May 18, 2010
When word came out yesterday that the ACC was nearing completion of a 12-year, $1.86 billion contract with ESPN, it became known that the Fox network made a very strong push to lure the ACC away from its long-time partner in Bristol, CN. Fox sent some of their top executives to make their case, swinging for the fences in hopes to land the rights to perhaps the conference with the country’s best combination of basketball and football “product” from top to bottom.

The ACC apparently decided to re-up with ESPN, however, but will now do so at a much higher pricetag than originally thought due to Fox’s efforts. Insiders felt the number would be no more than $120 million/year, but the negotiation brought the ACC’s pricetag up $35 million MORE per year to a very solid $155 million. This will increase every school’s annual take from $5.58 million to $12.92 million, more than double. The extra $35 million/year that the bargaining process netted the ACC means almost $3 million more each year for every school.

And in so doing, I think the ACC now stands a much better chance of retaining the schools some felt like stood a chance to leave the conference for either the SEC or perhaps the Big 10. Sure, there’s still a gap in revenue between the ACC and the two top money earning conferences, the Big 10 and the SEC, who expect to provide close to $20 million per school per year. But because the ACC can close the gap with the SEC and Big 10 in basketball revenue from the NCAA tournament (when Duke and Carolina are winning titles, it enriches all of us), the ACC stands a much better chance to offer an appealing enough package of revenue to protect schools like Clemson, Georgia Tech and perhaps Boston College from being lured away. That extra $3 million a year could make a huge difference.

So a sincere thank you to the folks at Fox. Though it was not your intention, your actions may have just preserved the ACC in its current form, and may ultimately have far-reaching impacts in the expansion plans of the neighboring conferences.

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