Orange Watch: ACC TV contract makes it hard at times to follow Syracuse basketball, football

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Sometimes SU fans have a harder time than others finding a particular game on TV.

Item: The ACC/ESPN’s recently renewed longtime, and long term, television contract with syndicator Raycom for the rights to broadcast game-of-the-week packages to both over-the-air broadcast affiliates in markets around the country, or what’s known as the ACC Network, and a package to regional sports networks (RSN) such as YES and FOX Sports South, the games ESPN doesn’t select for its myriad of channels, leaves many Orange fans in markets of all sizes with only two viewing options if a local station doesn’t carry the game; either pay-per-view on a la carte basis through the ESPN Fullcourt package and a likely standard definition broadcast, or online viewing with the option to hook a HDMI cable into a HD TV. In other words, even in 2015 it can be an effort to watch select ‘Cuse games via a clear HD broadcast on a TV.

When Syracuse played at Clemson on January 17, if you lived in the state of Pennsylvania and wanted to watch the 4:00 ET tipoff on the ACC’s over-the-air package on a station such as a network affiliate or an independent entity, well, you were out of luck.

There wasn’t a single broadcast station in the entire Commonwealth that chose to televise the game as part of the ACC Network game-of-the-week package, a series that dates back to the 1981-82 season and was intended to keep games on “Free TV” in an era of emerging cable monthly subscriptions. One could have watched the Syracuse-Clemson game on broadcast TV in Medford, Oregon, but not in Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth largest TV market which instead appropriately telecast the other ACC game being played in that same window involving Pennsylvania conference member, Pitt, but that didn’t help Orange fans in southeastern PA, and more than half of New Jersey, areas that couldn’t pull in the game on New York’s WLNY, and a region that contains a large number of alumni.

» Related: No place like Dome highlights early 2015 Syracuse football schedule

The overall problem for Syracuse followers who do not live in central New York over the two years that SU has been a league member, is as the ACC expanded to add former Big East teams in non-traditional geographical areas (the northeast and Midwest) of the original southern conference footprint, and in essence to the subsequent related major metro areas where many of the newest schools have large pockets of alumni, the league and its TV partners/syndicators have been hustling to get clearance in the new regions and elsewhere to jump on board and carry the conference packages.

Philadelphia, for example, is known as a professional sports town with only a sprinkle of interest in Penn State and Rutgers football (Big Ten) and Big Five basketball, and as such creates a huge void in the northeast TV map. The ACC was successful this past football season in getting the ABC owned affiliate (6ABC) to carry the 12:30 ET game-of-the-week package, as long as there wasn’t a conflict with company cousin ESPN, and the Saturday afternoon basketball package, but if it’s a weeknight game there’s no station openings to carrying college basketball programming.

For the regional sports package in Philly, Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia, with commitments to the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers game coverage and hours of Eagles-related programming not to mention a few crumbs for Temple football, has no slots or interest, for that matter, in carrying the ACC, so there’s no affiliate for the RSN games. For the best online betting offers using bookmakers promotional codes, visit this link.

While only five of the 12 football games this past season fell under either the ACCN or RSN umbrella, and it’s the same for six of the 31 regular season hoop games, and while there are ways to watch the games for the most hardcore members of Orange Nation no matter where you’re located, Philly included, by the number of queries Orange Watch has taken by both ‘Cuse fans in our base of southeast PA and around the country (“Who’s carrying the game in fill in the city name?”), it’s been at times an ongoing source of frustration to what we’ve come to take for granted, an unencumbered process to watch one’s favorite college team play all of its games on a HD TV broadcast.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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