People are having fun with the the fact that the ACC Network will start off with UNC basketball being the subject of a multi-part documentary series, and while we won’t spend much time watching that, realistically, the ACC’s options were somewhat limited.
They did the All-Access thing with Duke last year on ESPN+. Maybe they might’ve done UNC in that spot but Duke is at this point the bigger draw and they used it to gain attention.
Clemson football might be the logical option but it might not be the easiest to do out of the gate. Basketball has the advantage of having a lot less guys and it’s probably easier to work out the bugs with basketball.
Once you get beyond those three programs, where do you go? Virginia basketball? Haven’t we all complained about how Virginia’s offense is boring and hard to watch on TV? Louisville basketball? Maybe they could show the team when the NCAA letter finally arrives. Maybe not.
Notre Dame women’s basketball? That would be good but clearly the first time out they wanted to fire a big gun and UNC men’s basketball, along with Virginia men’s hoops and Clemson football, outdraw Notre Dame women’s basketball.
Realistically, the four biggest draws in some order are Duke basketball, UNC basketball, Duke-UNC basketball and Clemson football. If we’re right that they want to start with a bang but minimal issues as the network rolls out then it’s Duke or UNC and they can’t do Duke two years in a row. Our guess is that over time they’ll get around to a lot of programs in a lot of sports, both men’s and women’s.
Prior success is one major factor as is general public awareness, which is why, love it or hate it, Duke basketball is such a big draw. As this develops though seeing people like Muffet McGraw will give us a chance to really get to know the figures around the conference. Then it’s reality programming not necessarily just sports.
The test for the ACC will be this: suppose they’re doing a series on a team that has a crisis in the middle of filming? Suppose for instance they were doing a Georgia Tech feature as the Ron Bell allegations exploded? What if the Sylvia Hatchell allegations that cost her her job had come up while a series was filming? Or the Louisville escort story? Or UNC during its own epic multi-team scandal(s)?
We’re sure that the controlling ACC we all know and love would like to just put a happy face on stuff but ESPN will sniff a ratings bonanza. And if that’s the case, then things could get very interesting indeed.