ACC Network exec talks about Charlotte's role as cable channel nears August launch

ACC Network exec talks about Charlotte's role as cable channel nears August launch

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thanks to Clemson University, the Atlantic Coast Conference enjoys bragging rights for winning two of the past three college football national championships. Despite that pedigree, the annual ACC media days that started Wednesday focused as much on where the conference’s games will be seen as it did on who’s winning.

Charlotte is again hosting ACC Kickoff, a two-day gathering where players, coaches and league executives spend hours talking to a parade of reporters, producers, bloggers and sports-talk radio hosts. And this year the big star was the startup ACC Network, a 24-7 cable channel owned and operated by ESPN — and designed to promote the conference year-round.

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ACCN, as the channel will be known, is the Greensboro-based conference’s attempt to catch up with so-called Power 5 rivals in college sports’ arms and money races. The Power 5 refers to the major college sports conferences: ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Owing largely to established, lucrative conference-dedicated networks, the Big Ten and the SEC have pulled away from rival leagues in the money game.

ACCN debuts Aug. 22 and will carry 450 live events per year, including 40 football games, 150 men’s and women’s basketball games and other sports. ESPN’s Connecticut headquarters will be home to the ACC channel, with support from the company’s 40,000-square-foot offices and studios in Ballantyne. The network’s business arm will be located in Charlotte, including Rosalyn Durant, ESPN’s senior vice president of college networks, who’s in charge of ACCN.

Another local connection: the weekday morning show hosted by Mark Packer and Wes Durham will air from a studio built in the basement of Packer’s Charlotte home.

This week, Durant spoke with CBJ about the launch of ACCN and what's ahead for the network. Read that interview here.