10 days until the launch of ACC Network, with last week seeing ESPN unveil the channel’s new 2,800 square foot home in Bristol and early coverage plans for the college football season. In anticipation of the newest collegiate-branded channel, ESPN had Rosalyn Durant, ESPN senior vice president, college networks and Amy Rosenfeld, ESPN senior coordinating producer and production lead for ACCN, speak with media about the launch.
Rosenfeld on launching ACC Network: Ultimately the overarching theme for us was to try to be reflective of the conference itself, and so what we tried to demonstrate through the look and feel of the studio is sort of an ode to the past, a nod to the academic strength of the conference, but also at the same time being forward-thinking, tech forward. So hopefully — that’s not an easy blend with the old and the new, but hopefully we achieved that. One of the interesting parts of the studio is that many times a problem creates innovation, and our problem was that the studio which is kind of like a giant Thomas’s English muffin, so there’s all these nooks and crannies you have to get to, and ultimately the studio is fully robotic other than a jib and a jib operator.
Durant on distribution: We are very fortunate also to already have multiple viable options in place for fans to access the network if their home distributor does not carry it. There are four national distributors in place already with DirecTV, Hulu Live TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV is the latest one, and we anticipate more options in the near future.
On the distribution negotiating strategy as media evolves: How we think about success for a network launch is the same. It’s about having — we call it a multiplicity of providers, and we’ve always had the traditional, now we also have the streaming providers to add to that mix. We are very pleased with the providers that we already have on board. We wanted this network to be as widely available as possible. Fans deserve that. So we are pleased to have more options, to have four national options ready to go at launch and believe that it will set this network up for tremendous success.
On lessons learned from the launch of the SEC and Longhorn Networks: I can tell you that ACC Network will be focused on serving ACC fans. That is where we are. Our content offline will be made for that fan base, catering to the sports and stories that are most important to them, offering them unprecedented access to the programs that the people that they cheer for. Again, you’ve seen many of those announcements. Fans have told us that that’s what they want, and so that’s what we’re delivering, and that’s unique to the ACC. Again, ESPN has a 40-year history, so launching a network and having success with a network is our business and it is what we do, but each one is different, and this one will be no exception.