Orange Watch: Bad timing essentially ends ACC Network’s inaugural season

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ACC coaches pose for a photo at ACC media day. Mandatory Photo Credit: Brad Bierman, The Juice Online.

Item: There’s still programming on the ACC Network even as the world of sports has shut down during the fight against the Coronavirus. For example, this week repeats of 2019 ACC football telecasts are being shown around-the-clock, including the ‘Cuse in action, but with no new content there’s certainly nothing worth paying a premium subscription.

It was a tough sports year for Syracuse (and other ACC teams) fans if you had Comcast as your TV and/or Internet provider.

The Philadelphia-based cable giant simply does not like to add sports programming to its lineup, especially sports content that it deems competitive with its own sports content. It’s the long-debated, monopolistic problem of the distributor of the programming also owning some of the competitive programming. But that’s another story for another day.

» Related: COVID-19 could cut into the 2020 Syracuse football season

For Syracuse fans in 2019-20 with Comcast as their provider throughout the ACC footprint extending from Boston to Miami, it provided a problem to conveniently watch the increasing number of games either on the ACC Network or online-only on ACC Network Extra, along with specialty programming such as “Packer and Durham” in morning drive, and “The Huddle” studio show around the game broadcasts.

Five of the 12 Orange football games were on ACC Network, 15 of the 33 (exhibition games) basketball games were on either ACC Network or ‘Extra,’ and a minimum of six lacrosse games were either broadcast, or set to be shown on ACC Network or ‘Extra.’

There were repeated stories of desperate fans, many self-admitting technical deficiencies, seeking help finding alternate solutions around the problem. They included trial subscriptions to apps, and the major paradigm shift of exclusively streaming the content through the likes of You Tube TV, Sling TV, Hulu, and Play Station Vue, many with plans to ditch their services upon the conclusion of the sports year.

ESPN and the ACC have been strong promoting the network since before it debuted last August, but as expected are not going to get into the business of revealing tiny ratings for ACCN programming in a first year with distribution issues, a down year for basketball (Duke-North Carolina TV ratings on ESPN were the lowest since 2014 (I) and 2011 (II) in their two games) and the sports calendar cut short by a pandemic.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 686 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.