ACC’s new TV deal levels field

Atlantic Coast Conference commissionerJohn Swofford. File/AP

CLEMSON — The Atlantic Coast Conference announced a new 15-year television agreement with ESPN and ABC on Wednesday, a deal narrowing the divide in television dollars between the ACC and other power conferences.

The deal is worth $3.6 billion and will keep the ACC on ESPN and ABC through the 2026-27 academic year.

The new deal will pay each ACC member program $17.1 million per year on average, an increase of $4 million per year from the $1.86 billion deal the conference signed with ESPN and ABC in 2010.

The ACC’s decision to bring Syracuse and Pittsburgh into the conference last year allowed the conference to renegotiate its television deal with ESPN and ABC. Broadcast rights keep increasing as networks are in search of events that can draw large live audiences in this age of fractured cable audiences and DVR.

“We are excited to have further enhanced our partnership with ESPN through the extension of our multimedia contract,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a release. “We are proud that ESPN has invested so deeply in the ACC both from a resource and exposure standpoint. As we look to the future, this relationship will be tremendous for our schools, fans, coaches and student-athletes.”

Reaching a new agreement was critical for the ACC as the conference had fallen significantly behind other power conferences in terms of TV revenue.

The Pac-12 signed a $3 billion television deal last year, while the Big 12 announced a $2.6 billion media rights deal with ESPN and FOX earlier this week. Programs in each of those conferences will earn on average $20 million per year under their new deals.

The Big Ten has its own network and deals with ABC and ESPN, netting each conference member $22 million last season.

The SEC signed landmark deals in 2008 with ESPN and CBS worth a total of $3 billion over 15 years, though that deal is also expected to be renegotiated after the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri last year.

Television rights fees have grown exponentially since the SEC signed a six-year, $85 million deal with CBS in 1996.

The ACC will continue to have football games nationally televised on ESPN on Thursday and Saturday nights.

The ACC has not announced when Syracuse and Pittsburgh will begin play in the conference, but when they enter the league, the ACC will expanded its conference football schedule to nine games and its conference basketball schedule to 18 games per season.

The ACC deal goes into effect July 1.