University of Miami

ACC’s launching of Network with ESPN applauded by Miami Hurricanes

Commissioner John Swofford, left, is flanked by ACC coaches as he announces an ACC/ESPN Network during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C., Thurs., July 21, 2016.
Commissioner John Swofford, left, is flanked by ACC coaches as he announces an ACC/ESPN Network during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C., Thurs., July 21, 2016. AP

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the 2019 launching of a new ACC Network with ESPN on Thursday morning during ACC commissioner John Swofford’s opening news conference.

The network’s “monumental agreement,” Swofford said, will be, according to the ESPN/ACC release, “a comprehensive linear and digital network. The 20-year partnership will provide ACC fans unprecedented access to live events via a comprehensive, multi-platform network. It also provides for the extension of the conference’s existing rights agreement with ESPN to 2036.”

The network will air “450 exclusive live events, including 40 regular-season football games, more than 150 men’s and women’s basketball games, more than 200 other regular-season contests and tournament games from across the conference’s 27 sponsored sports.”

For basketball fans, the conference will move to 20 men’s ACC basketball games in 2019.

Each of the 14 ACC programs and Notre Dame had representatives on stage during the address, including UM women’s basketball coach Katie Meier and football coach Mark Richt.

Richt called the announcement “huge.”

“Exposure, money,” he said.

For Meier, the new network will bring much more exposure to her women’s team, as most of the major men’s games already were televised.

“It’s stunning to me,” Meier said of how far women’s basketball has come.

For Miami in particular, Meier said “the national exposure with recruiting is going to be enormous. … To be able to tell parents, ‘You won’t miss one of your daughter’s games, and not because you have to huddle over a computer back in the corner somewhere. But you can literally turn on a 72-inch TV and see her in HD.’ That’s awesome.”

UM athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald that the network would be a long-awaited advantage for all league members. UM already has made a major commitment to broadcasting, investing more than $2 million in high-tech equipment and staffing to produce 114 events for ESPN3 this year.

“This isn’t as much about exposure for sports like football and men’s basketball,” James said. “But when you look at the rest of our programs — women’s basketball, baseball, tennis, track, everything else, this is a real win for them.

“We’ll need to elevate a little bit in order to be able to broadcast linear, but for the most part we’re ready to go on most of what we do. That was part of my idea behind this investment last year when we did this.”

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