The Washington Post

ACC, ESPN agree to 15-year extension

The ACC and ESPN announced Wednesday that they have extended their exclusive multi-platform coverage agreement through the 2026-27 season to reflect the league’s upcoming additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, and it will bring each of the conference’s schools more television revenue than ever before.

Under terms of the amended contract, which will begin in July, ESPN will pay the ACC approximately $3.6 billion over 15 years. That equates to about $17 million a year per school, an increase of more than $4 million from the league’s previous contract.

In July 2010, the ACC signed a 12-year contract with ESPN worth $1.86 billion that only went into effect this past year. League officials said last fall when they announced Syracuse and Pittsburgh’s defection from the Big East to the ACC that there was already a clause in place to renegotiate the contract because the conference had increased to 14 schools.

But the ACC’s deal ranks behind several other BCS conference television contracts signed in recent years. The Pacific-12 agreed to a television contract with Fox and ESPN last year that will pay each member school about $21 million a year. Just this week, meanwhile, it was reported that the Big 12 had orally agreed to a 13-year contract with ESPN and Fox that will pay each of its member schools approximately $20 million a year.

Last year, the SEC paid each of its 12 member schools about $17 million through television agreements signed in 2009 with CBS and ESPN, but SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has indicated he will also try to renegotiate the league’s contract with Missouri and Texas A&M joining the conference next season. Big Ten schools each receive at least $20 million per year as part of the league’s television contracts, according to published reports.

Perhaps the most interesting caveat of the ACC’s enhanced deal is a clause that gives ESPN the right to televise up to three Friday night ACC football games per season. The contract states that there is a standing agreement for Syracuse and Boston College to host one game apiece, and that one of the two would also host a game there will be another ACC game on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend.

There is still no set date for when Pittsburgh and Syracuse will officially join the ACC, but earlier this year the league agreed to move to nine conference games in football and 18 conference games in men’s and women’s basketball when they do arrive. As a result, there will be an additional 14 ACC football games and 30 men’s basketball games televised on ESPN networks each year.

As part of the new contract, ESPN has also acquired sponsorship rights, pending conference approval, to all of the ACC’s conference championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The ACC football championship game is already sponsored by Dr. Pepper.

“We are excited to have further enhanced our partnership with ESPN through the extension of our multimedia contract,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “We are proud that ESPN has invested so deeply in the ACC both from a resource and exposure standpoint. As we look to the future, this relationship will be tremendous for our schools, fans, coaches and student-athletes.”

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.


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