Virginia Tech A.D. Whit Babcock talked a bit about the ACC Network, saying that the Hokies have invested intelligently and are ready to flip the switch. He’s very optimistic about the potential.
Virginia Tech has invested $10 million and will put in about $1.5 million per year.
Meanwhile, Miami has invested in some high end equipment to use on its events and up in Syracuse, the Orange are making more money but looking soberly at the landscape.
Which is probably smart.
Obviously the Big Ten and the SEC got to conference networks first and have better football than the ACC.
The ACC has the advantage of first seeing everyone’s mistakes and second a huge population advantage.
However it’s getting in just as people are abandoning cable and the future, in that sense, is very murky.
The conference has a chance to get to the next thing first if it can pair 5G networks and emerging technologies like virtual reality. If you can literally (okay virtually) put people on the front row that’s far more compelling than watching TV.
Apple is reportedly working on glasses to augment phones and eventually, when things are further along, VR goggles will be much smaller. Putting games on your Raybans is not too far away.
Streaming may also come to the rescue. Netflix blazed a path that Amazon, Hulu, Disney Apple, AT&T and Comcast have all either started or will soon.
So far sports is a minimum part of streaming but Disney owns ESPN and adding that to their streaming service would be a relative trifle.
The question is revenue.
In bundles everyone has to buy ESPN whether they want to or not. That won't be the case forever and the cable checks will eventually shrink and college sports will have to find other sources.
5G will change things enormously simply because video can be delivered at very high quality as long as you’re within range of the network. It will also likely pressure cable (as well as internet providers) and unforeseen technologies are likely to emerge rapidly.
Everything is about to change, again, and just like with conference networks, whoever is there first will be in the best position.
We don’t know if the ACC has someone significant in charge of tech but they really should - and they should have a liaison in Disney’s corporate office too because you can bet Disney is involved in some very interesting experiments with delivering media.
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