Rather than try to spin a yarn or offer up a traditional news story on the new deal between the ACC and ESPN announced today, how about a little Q-and-A format (and feel free to ask questions about stuff that got omitted).
Sounds good? Great. Let's get to it.
What are the terms?
It's a 12-year deal (beginning in 2011-12), and neither ACC commissioner John Swofford nor ESPN executive vice president for content John Skipper would specifically confirm the financial arrangements.
Sports Business Journal has reported the figure at $1.86 billion. Swofford all but acknowledged the validity of that number.
"I can't confirm that other than to say I've read some things that have been quite accurate," Swofford said.
How does it compare to past deals?
Swofford said conference schools would receive more than double what they received from the ACC's past deals. As in the past, the television revenue will be split equally between the schools.
It's also a twist for ESPN, which takes over all the broadcast rights for the ACC. That didn't even happen with the network's landmark deal with the SEC, since CBS retained a football package.
"This is the first time at ESPN where we did an all-in deal to acquire all of their product," Skipper said.
Is Raycom out?
No. ESPN will sublicense games to Raycom, which will continue providing a syndicated package that will be rebranded as the "ACC Network."
Raycom president and CEO Ken Haines said his company will air as many games as in the past.
One interesting tweak will be moving the syndicated football package to a 12:30 kickoff. Raycom's broadcasts have traditionally started at noon, with kickoff at about 12:10.
Also, Raycom can now syndicate games outside regular ACC markets --- much as ESPN did by expanding its SEC Network last season.
So what does ESPN get?
The network gets the rights to every conference-controlled football and men's basketball game, which effectively means every home game and some neutral-site games. That will provide content not just for networks, but also for broadband (ESPN3.com) and mobile platforms as well.
The network also gets the rights to other sports, including women's basketball (ESPN or ESPN2 will televise the conference final), men's soccer, men's lacrosse, baseball and softball.
Does this mean every Duke-North Carolina basketball game is exclusive to ESPN?
Not entirely. While it's clear this year's Duke-Carolina game in prime-time on CBS is a one-time deal, Raycom will still be able to air the first (midweek) meeting between the schools. The games will co-exist in ACC territory, with no blackouts in place anymore.
"We're offering fans a choice," Skipper said. "They can watch on ESPN or on Raycom."Is Fox Sports Net out as a men's basketball broadcaster?
Yes. The network's 10-year run with a Sunday night package will end this year, with ESPNU picking up a Sunday series. Swofford said those tip times will be between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; the Fox tips were usually (though not always) between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
"We think that will be well-received," Swofford said in one of the day's more notable understatements.
(EDIT: It should be noted Fox can still sublicense games, as it has done for several sports --- women's basketball and baseball, most notably --- in the past)
What happens if there's realignment?
Skipper said there are provisions in this deal (as well as those in the past with the ACC and other conferences) to deal with a conference shakeup.
That said, neither party anticipates major changes to the conference's composition in the coming years.
"It was a pretty big non-factor in this discussion ...," Skipper said. "One of the reasons it didn't come up is it is clear the ACC is a very sound conference and not likely to change."
Who gets the digital and archival rights?
The ACC retains those.