ACC extends deal with ESPN
Schools to receive $17m every year
A lucrative and lengthy television contract extension between the Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN will provide Boston College sports with a significant boost financially and, potentially, in prominence.
The renegotiated deal between the ACC, which BC joined in 2005 after leaving the Big East, and the network was announced Wednesday. ESPN will pay $3.6 billion over the next 15 years, through 2026-27, or an average of $17 million annually to each of the conference’s 14 teams.
While the deal is massive - the annual rights fee is $240 million, nearly matching the Pac-12’s $250 million deal with Fox and ESPN - it is not a huge surprise.
The conference expanded last year, adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and a clause in the previous contract permitted the ACC to renegotiate if it grew by two or more teams.
Each team received approximately $13 million annually in the previous deal, which is in its first year. With the renegotiation, four years were added.
“This is significant in a couple of ways,’’ said BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo. “It means an additional $4 million per year per school, and it means we’re going to get a lot more exposure by way of television.
“The job of the athletic department is to provide name recognition and exposure for the institution, and having more games on television will certainly help to do that.’’
ESPN will add 30 men’s basketball games to its annual schedule, and 14 conference football games. It will also televise three Friday football games, including one the day after Thanksgiving. BC and Syracuse are assured of hosting one of the Friday games every season.
“We’ll be the only game on that night, which will be great exposure for us,’’ said DeFilippo, who added that BC won’t play any home Thursday games. “It could be the Friday before Labor Day or the Friday the week before Thanksgiving. Those are great times to play as well, so we’re really excited about that.’’
ESPN also has acquired title sponsorship rights, subject to conference approval, beyond football to all other conference championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The ACC men’s basketball tournament has never been sponsored in its 59-year history.
ESPN’s ties to the ACC are long-running and extensive; it has been televising conference content since 1979 and has exclusive rights to every conference-controlled football and men’s basketball game, plus women’s basketball and all ACC championship events.
But extending the contract made sense for ESPN for another reason beyond the longstanding relationship: It gives the network an advantage over upstarts such as NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, and the all-sports channel Fox is rumored to be considering. ESPN already has rights deals in place with the Southeastern Conference, Pac-12, and Big Ten.
“There are very few secrets in college athletics,’’ said DeFilippo. “Everyone knows or thinks they know the deal this conference got or that conference got. So knowing [the ACC’s appeal] was very beneficial to us.’’
DeFilippo stirred some controversy shortly after the previous deal was announced in October 2011 when he told the Globe that ESPN “told us what to do.’’ The comment prompted backlash, and he apologized to ACC presidents and athletic directors, saying he spoke erroneously.
“Let’s face it, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, they have done a marvelous job in the promotion, televising, and producing of college sports,’’ said DeFilippo. “I know that high school recruits all over the country are watching ‘SportsCenter’ every night, so it’s very, very important. It’s the place to be.’’