Joe Ovies

ACC Network will have distinct personality from SEC Network

Posted July 14

— The Atlantic Coast Conference doesn't have an equivalent to the SEC Network's Paul Finebaum. It doesn't want one either.

With the ACC Network roughly two years away from signing on as a linear cable and satellite channel, Commissioner John Swofford has spent much of his time in public forums discussing the infrastructure investment required by the conference and universities for the launch.

If you talk to anyone associated with the ACC, everyone seems pleased with the progress. According to Swofford, the ACC and ESPN have several instances in which they are slightly ahead of schedule in the various phases of the network operations and build out.

However, while I'm fascinated by the technicalities of how to launch a network, I'm guessing a large majority of fans' eyes glaze over after a few minutes of distribution talk. Fans simply want to know what the channel will look like, how it will cover the conference and whether or not they'll be able to find it on their paid television service once 2019 rolls around.

"You ask, 'What's the identity of the ACC Network?' and I think the answer to that is 'How do you think of the ACC now?'," Swofford explained to 99.9FM The Fan. "It's figuring out how to present to a television audience -- linear or digital -- who you are."

I'm also going to assume a large majority of ACC fans won't be into the type of pro-conference propaganda typically found on the SEC Network.

The modern ACC has a sense of humor, which is severely lacking in most SEC coverage outside Spencer Hall's work at SB Nation. When you hear "A-C-C" chants after a big win over an SEC school, that's not because fans are drinking the Greensboro Kool-Aid. It's pure snark, done to make fun of the SEC.

So, if ESPN approaches ACC studio shows or talk radio simulcasts with an eye to borrow heavily from what they've done on the SEC Network, it won't connect with the intended audience.

"Neither conference wants that," Swofford explained to 99.9FM The Fan. "We want our own identity, and I'm sure the SEC wants their own identity."

Programming decisions for the ACC Network should start in early 2018. How the channel looks, sounds and handles coverage of all the sports being broadcast is evolving and being developed behind the scenes now.

"Ultimately that's ESPN's decision, but certainly not without our involvement," Swofford said. "We're 50-50 business partners in this venture, we'll have our voice, but they're the pros in terms of programming and distribution."

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