The Atlantic Coast Conference’s television network will launch in August 2019, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.
The person also said ESPN and the ACC also will start a digital channel next month that will be available online. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the network has not been formally announced by ESPN or the ACC.
The launch of the network will be discussed this week when the ACC holds its preseason football media days beginning Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Commissioner John Swofford’s regularly scheduled news conference will be Thursday.
The ACC will become the fourth major conference with its own network, joining the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference. The SEC also has ESPN as its partner.
The Big Ten’s network, which launched in 2007, is backed by Fox. The Pac-12 owns the network it started in 2012 and has faced some distribution difficulties — for example, it is not available to DirecTV subscribers. The SEC Network, which is headquartered in Charlotte, launched in August 2014.
The ACC’s digital channel will be available to authenticated subscribers via ESPN’s online apps, the person said. That means viewers will have to first provide the usernames and passwords they use to log into the online accounts for their cable or satellite television providers.
The creation of an ACC-specific TV channel has been arguably the hottest off-the-field topic surrounding the conference since realignment slowed, and the conference has spent years researching the possibility.
Swofford routinely has been peppered with questions about a network, but has only been able to provide vague answers. At last year’s preseason football media days he joked, “I know you’re very tired of hearing me talk and not say much on that subject.”