As the college athletics world suffered through the upheaval of realignment in the early part of the 21st century, the common refrain was “it’ll be worth it when our networks come online”. Everyone saw the magic Jim Delaney was working with the B1G, and what’s-good-for-the-goose-itis ran rampant. The SEC was quick to jump on board, followed by the Pac-12, and even the Texas Longhorns figured they could pull it off (although the jury remains out). These networks, mostly coupled to the sports behemoth that is (or at least was) ESPN, sought to milk their own cash cows while (allegedly) bringing more of their content to their constituents who cared (and those who didn’t).
While perhaps late to the party, the Atlantic Coast Conference, home to at least some of your Fighting Irish squads, has shown up with what it thinks is good beer and hopes is quality content. On August 22, 2019, ACCN — a “new 24/7 national network dedicated to ACC sports” — will debut, and feature 150 men’s and women’s basketball games, 250 Olympic sports events, studio and original programming, and 40 football games including at least one featuring Notre Dame.
Not that folks may notice, of course. As of this writing, neither Comcast nor Charter is carrying the new network, which given the new rules and regs, will affect Irish fans a lot more than it did in the past.
What new rules, you ask? To wit:
In prior seasons, ND games on what was called “ACC Network Extra” (or ACCNE on our schedule pages) could be watched online via ESPN3, the website the WWL would use to broadcast all the games for which they had the rights. If you were an ESPN subscriber via your cable company, you could access those games online and watch them on your electronic devices.
In the world of the new ACC Network Extra — ACCNX — that’s no longer the case. While you still will be able to stream the games via ESPN and the app, if your provider doesn’t carry the ACC Network, you’re SOL. ESPN subscription isn’t enough anymore, and if you’re a cord-cutter, your ability to access the games remains to be seen.
And don’t expect Jefferson Pilot or any of the one-off stations to bail you out. According to the press release, all ACC-controlled games will be on ACCN, ACCNX, ABC, and the ESPN family of networks only. Syndication is a thing of the past. On the good news side, you don’t have to worry about games being preempted by a monster truck rally on your local UHF channel. On the bad news side, you may not be able to see the game at all.
We’ve all seen these negotiations before, and one can only hope within the next couple weeks, the ACCN has found a home on your cable monstrosity of choice. If you’re an Irish hoops fan, it’s probably worth your while to hit up the ACCN prompting page to see if you’re covered. If not … well, get those rabbit ears out.