Raycom seeks new TV home for ACC football and basketball

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Clemson University defensive end KJ Henry (5) celebrates North Carolina defensive back Don Defensive play near Tavius ​​Nash (21).

Clemson University defensive end KJ Henry (5) celebrates North Carolina defensive back Don Defensive play near Tavius ​​Nash (21).

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Bankruptcy-saddled Bally Sports no longer wants to televise its package of ACC football and men’s basketball games, leaving Raycom open to find a new outlet for games starting in September.

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Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of the regional Bally Sports networks around the country, missed a payment to Raycom this spring, according to a motion filed in federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday and obtained by The News & Observer.

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Stuck with $8 billion in debt, Diamond filed for bankruptcy protection on March 14.

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In Wednesday’s motion, Diamond’s lawyers requested the court end the deal with Raycom, the Charlotte-based television production company that holds the rights to select ACC football and men’s and women’s regular-season basketball telecasts. That deal, the final remnant of the ACC’s once-robust partnership with Raycom, is scheduled to run through April 30, 2027.

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“(Diamond) and Raycom have discussed their current arrangement and have determined to amicably part ways and allow Raycom to freely pursue a new partnership,” the motion states.

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After Diamond missed the payment, Raycom requested Diamond file the motion with the court, according to the court document.

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“Raycom Sports supports Diamond’s determination to end the uncertainty over the status of the rights agreement for the benefit of ACC fans,” Raycom Sports said in a statement released to The News & Observer.

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The move will allow Raycom to find a different channel to show the games, which include one football game per week and two men’s basketball games per week.

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ESPN agreement with ACC

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The rights to televise all other ACC games are owned by ESPN through its comprehensive media deal with the league. One possibility, of course, would be for Raycom to sell its games to ESPN and have them on one of its networks, which includes the ACC Network.

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Since the bankruptcy court judge has yet to rule, Raycom is not yet free to complete a deal with a new provider. But a ruling to end the agreement is likely since, according to the court document, lawyers from Raycom and Diamond worked together to draft the motion to end their deal.

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On May 31, the ACC announced television plans for the upcoming football season’s first three weeks. The majority of those games will be on an ESPN channel, such as ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ACC Network or streaming via ACC Network Extra/ESPN+.

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But three games — Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Western Michigan at Syracuse and VMI at N.C. State — have yet to be assigned a starting time or a television network.

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The plan had been for those games to appear on the ACC’s regional sports networks, which include Bally Sports networks around the country, in addition to other regional channels such as Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and YES Network.

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Diamond Sports, in its motion to the court, said it has “determined that the Raycom agreement and the associated rights do not fit within (its) go-forward business strategy.”

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The Diamond Sports bankruptcy is having ripple effects across the college and professional sports spectrum. Diamond has deals to televise 13 Major League Baseball teams games in addition to 28 NBA and NHL teams. That includes Carolina Hurricanes hockey and Charlotte Hornets basketball.

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Raycom’s history with ACC

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Raycom has a long history of broadcasting and syndicating ACC games dating back to the 1970s. ESPN’s 2016 deal with the league to launch the ACC Network took the majority of the games under its umbrella. The final event Raycom broadcast was the 2019 ACC men’s basketball tournament.

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Raycom has since left the broadcasting business as it focuses on behind-the-scenes production services.

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Still, under a 2010 deal brokered by former ACC commissioner John Swofford that was reworked in 2016, Raycom retained the rights to a few ACC events. That included the football and men’s basketball packages in addition to ACC women’s basketball and baseball, which it resold to the regional sports networks.

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Last year, the ACC bought back the rights to the women’s basketball and baseball tournament games so they could be shown on ACC Network and other ESPN channels.

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The main impetus for that move was dwindling carriage agreements Bally Sports had with providers as more viewers opted for streaming over traditional cable or satellite television.

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While Spectrum, DirecTV and Fubo carry the Diamond Sports Group’s channels, popular providers like Dish Network, Hulu and YouTubeTV do not.

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Many times, league coaches said, their games were not widely available.

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“It was just odd, you know?” N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent told The News & Observer last year. “You push the ACC Network and the game of the week. That’s a big exposure piece. And then you get to the conference tournament and none of the games were on.”

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The looming end of Diamond’s deal with Raycom opens the possibility that more fans will have access to ACC football and men’s and women’s basketball teams during the upcoming seasons.

This story was originally published on June 15, 2023 at 2:37 pm.

Avatar for Steve Wiseman

Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and the Raleigh News and Observer. In the Associated Press Sports Editors National Competition, he placed in the top 10 for Beat Writing in 2019, 2021 and 2022, Breaking News in 2019 and Explanatory Writing in 2018. Previously, Steve has worked at The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), Charlotte Observer, and Hickory (North Carolina) The Daily Record covers the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, the University of South Carolina Athletics and the SC Conference. He is the recipient of several national press association awards. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.



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