ACC, ESPN agree on $3.6 billion TV rights deal

acarter@newsobserver.comMay 10, 2012 

The Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN announced on Wednesday a restructured television rights deal that will increase the league’s exposure and pay member schools approximately $4 million more per year than the agreement the conference announced in July 2010.

The restructured contract, which binds the ACC and ESPN through the 2026-27 sports season, will go into effect on July 1 and is worth $3.6 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the financial details of the agreement.

Once Pitt and Syracuse become official members of the ACC, each of the league’s 14 teams will receive $17.1 million in TV revenue from the conference.

The news on Wednesday came a little less than two years after the ACC and ESPN announced a 12-year contract worth $1.86 billion. That deal went into effect on July 1, 2011, and it would have paid the league’s 12 schools $12.9 million per season.

The new deal, which came about because of the impending entrance of Pitt and Syracuse into the ACC, will leave the league’s schools $4.1 million richer per season compared to the old contract. Overall, league members will receive $60 million more over the duration of the new contract, compared to the old.

The restructured contract also will result in an increase of the number of ACC events that ESPN broadcasts across its platforms. In addition to the ACC’s regular lineup of Saturday and Thursday night football games, the network will now televise three Friday games per season.

Boston College and Syracuse will each host a Friday game, and there will also be an annual afternoon or night game on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Under the new deal, ESPN will now broadcast an additional 30 ACC men’s basketball games. The increase is mainly due of the addition of Pitt and Syracuse, and the ACC’s move to an 18-game conference schedule, which begins next season.

The restructured contract also gives ESPN the right to find a title sponsor for the ACC’s championship events, similar to how Dr. Pepper sponsors the ACC football championship game. The ACC men’s basketball tournament has never had a title sponsor, and the league would have final approval before it adopts a sponsor for any event.

Though the ACC’s new TV rights deal represents a significant upgrade from the contract that went into effect less than 12 months ago, the ACC is still behind other conferences when it comes to television dollars.

The Big 12’s 10 schools will reportedly receive slightly less than $20 million annually from agreements with Fox Sports and ESPN. The Pac-12, meanwhile, last year agreed to contracts with Fox Sports and ESPN that will reportedly pay its member schools $21 million per year.

In the Southeastern Conference, its 12 members have been receiving approximately $17 million in TV revenue from the league. The SEC is expected to restructure its TV contracts with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M.

Carter: 919-829-8944

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