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Bob Holliday

Raycom relishes ACC Network role

Posted September 10, 2013

ACC logo - white on blue

At a time when so much sports programming is moving to cable, Raycom Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Rayburn remains bullish about the more traditional brand of televised sports.

“I’m an over-the-air guy,” Rayburn says. And he has the numbers to prove it. Raycom’s ACC Network now airs on 90 different stations (including WRAL-TV), at least one-third of which are actually outside the ACC’s geographic footprint. The ACC Network, at present, reaches 54 percent of the households in the United States.

When the ACC signed a long-term rights agreement with ESPN in 2010, the conference also chose to maintain a relationship with its long-time partner Raycom. Through syndication rights granted by the ESPN and the ACC, Raycom produces two football games each week – one for regional cable on the Fox Sports Network and another for the ACC Network, whose over-the-air tradition dates back more than 50 years.

And at the present time, over-the-air remains an important part of the ACC’s television portfolio. In the Raleigh-Durham market, fully 12 percent of the households do not receive cable or satellite. Rayburn notes that in other parts of the South and some urban areas, the number of people who receive only over-the-air television is even greater.

Steve Martin, who has called ACC games on television since 1990, says not much about ACC football inside his booth has changed over the past 23 years. “Except,” he says, “we have more commercial material. And that’s a good thing.”

Understandably so. While a cable sports company like ESPN can generate as much as 75 percent of its revenues from subscriber fees, an over-the-air network doesn’t have that luxury. Traditional TV networks must create revenues almost entirely from advertising.

Raycom now operates the last over-the-air regional sports network serving a major conference in the entire country.

I recently watched a tape of an ACC football game from the late-80s, and I can tell you there is much that is different about the product. Stadiums are bigger, facilities are finer, coaches are more energetic, and players are stronger and faster. All this and more are reflected in Raycom’s coverage, which began an important new element a couple of years ago: The ACC Blitz. Under the new contract, Raycom decided to ramp up its portrayal of the ACC, acquiring a new state-of-the art HD production truck and adding a game day hub in Charlotte. Result: the network can now better cover the entire conference during its telecast – not just the two schools featured on the ACC game of the week. And it boasts a picture quality second to none.

Last Saturday, I spent two plus hours in the Raycom truck for an up-close look at how the ACC Network’s coverage unfolds. On Tuesday afternoon, I’ll give you a timeline of what transpired behind the scenes, in this new age of televised sports in the ACC.

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  • Jim Pomeranz Sep 12, 4:44 p.m.

    With hurry up-no-huddle offenses, Raycom and all the other sports broadcasters need to keep the camera on the action and show few crowd shots, fewer coaches shots, fewer player shots, and, unfortunately, few replays. In UNC's game against Middle Tennessee, there were too many plays missed by TV. Give us the CD Chesley model of a camera at midfield that sticks with the action; and give us announcers who know the game and who do not show obvious favoritism with their words.

  • wkmeekins Sep 10, 6:45 p.m.

    Get on board the pilot ship today! And who can forget Doris Day with Holly Farms chicken or the CEO from Foodlion that to me looked close enough to be Terry Hollands twin brother

  • Wheelman Sep 10, 3:59 p.m.

    Thacker and Packer...."Sail with the Pilot at the wheel........"

    That was a long, long time ago.

  • BigfootBeliever Sep 10, 3:50 p.m.

    I have been watching ACC sports for at least 30 years. Raycom coverage is ALWAYS a disappointment. Broadcasters are second rate. If possible, I turn off the sound and listen to the radio broadcast. Raycom, please go away!!!

  • cjw6105 Sep 10, 2:38 p.m.

    I'll echo what LOLgoTate said and add to it.

    Local network coverage (which I'll use as "Raycom") dictates that football games start in the noon hour, which is a death sentence for fans before mid-October. The games they show are generally dreadful games that nobody watches, plus the objective of Raycom seems to be keeping the game on the air as long as possible. There are no games to follow, so why try to move the game along? While we fans sit in the stands (at Carter-Finley and other ACC venues) and roast, and while players and officials stand around waiting for minutes at a time between plays, the endless tv commercials continue.

    Many of the Raycom basketball games are ill-timed as well. Why show games like Boston College vs Clemson at the same time ESPN is showing Duke-Carolina? Why show split-coverage games at the same time, which assures that one geographical area won't see a certain game? And why start a State-Wake game at 9pm?

  • Euro American Sep 10, 2:22 p.m.

    Raycom really relishes TV Commercial revenue roll! They now milk almost 4 hours out of a 60 minute contest. Whether you are at a game or sitting at home on the couch, these games that take 3:45 to play because of TV Timeouts simply suck for viewers and fans. At home we have an hour DVR delay so we can fast forward the DVR through the plague of increasingly stupid commercials! Being at games is painful, so we rarely go anymore. Are ticket sales across the board suffering maybe?

    Sunday's Panther - Seattle Game on the other hand was over in under 3 hours, which is reasonable. ACC Basketball fans watch out! This needs to be fixed for the fans. Commissioner Swofford, Raycom, WRAL et al, y'all stop patting yourselves on the back so hard for this mess.

  • NCSU84 Sep 10, 1:34 p.m.

    "ACC Network" just comes across as a "me, too!" wrapper for the same old... View More

    — Posted by dmccall

    C.D.Chesley was where it was at in the 70's!!

  • unc70 Sep 10, 1:31 p.m.

    In regards to the ACC Network being formed similiar to Big Ten, SEC or Texas Network, why is it... View More

    — Posted by tdouble232323

    I think there are very significant risks and challenges longterm that the revenue models for game broadcasts could implode rapidly and put a hurt on college athletics budgets everywhere. Technology and demographics will be the driving forces. Questions to ponder include whether women will be as willing to pay extra to watch football games.

  • tdouble232323 Sep 10, 12:57 p.m.

    In regards to the ACC Network being formed similiar to Big Ten, SEC or Texas Network, why is it accepted belief that these revenues will continue to go up and up? With more and more people "cutting the cord", the amount of people getting TV via cable or satellite will continue to decline. Its the 800lb gorilla in the room that cable and TV execs don't won't to discuss.

  • living the dream Sep 10, 12:40 p.m.

    Great story. I'd love to see some of the older games from years ago.

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