Reports have started to surface that the ACC and ESPN are closing in on a deal for a lucrative ACC Network that could launch in 2019. In fact, these same reports suggest that an official announcement could come this week at ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina.
NC State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow is a major proponent of an ACC Network, and she recently talked in-depth about the possibilities with Pack Pride.
"Yes, I do [believe the network is close to becoming a reality], and I have felt that way for awhile," Yow said. "It's a major negotiation, and I just believe in the ACC. In the quality of the product, if you will. I believe in this league in football and men's basketball, and also in the Olympic sports.
"I always felt like it was just... we would come down to a negotiation of numbers, but that of course [ESPN] would understand our value as a league and want to partner with us on a network as they did with SEC. Hopefully soon we'll hear some good news, and we'll be off and running."
"Off and running" for NC State also relates to the Wolfpack building a state-of-the-art broadcast studio in the Murphy Center, and the plans for the facility are already in place. Yow and her staff are now just waiting on the official announcement of the network before proceeding with the construction of the Murphy Center Media Studio.
"I don't want to be caught off guard when the network becomes a reality, because there's a lot of thought and work and coordination with campus that would go into building a broadcast studio," Yow said. "The studio itself for us would not be that expensive. It would be under $2 million but the equipment, that's another story. We just purchased new equipment for Reynolds, in a new room at Reynolds where we'll be doing production room."
A major reason the cost would be lower than expected is because of the current setup of the Murphy Center. A lot of schools may need to "build out" from their current facilities to accommodate the dimensions needed for the studio, but NC State can thank former head coach Chuck Amato for his love of exercise.
"Schools in the SEC, many of them had to build out from their facilities," said Yow. "I asked our group to look at Murphy in the current building envelope. Would there be space enough to build a studio without building out? It's so expensive to build out.
"Chuck helped us on this. When we built Murphy Center, Chuck wanted a racquetball court built. We have a small theater in there, we have a racquetball court, and we have the media room that we use now. When you wipe those walls out you get a huge space and what could become a 2-story green room where we can do all kinds of creative productions. The modifications needed to make that happen are a little less than $2 million. The equipment itself is another $4 million at least, so we're looking at about $6 million total. Part of that is what we just bought for Reynolds."
"We're ready to go, if and when we have a network, we have a plan for the broadcast studio," Yow added. "We've already bought part of the equipment and are installing it now in Reynolds, in the new control room there, which is also a need base that we've never had before. We can do our digital productions out of that room primarily.
"The other benefit of doing the major broadcast studio in Murphy is the 4th floor is where our video people are right now. They move. They all come downstairs into this beautiful new spacious area and then that provides ... that space on the 4th floor becomes available for Coach Doeren to use for his staff."
Some schools may not choose to go the route NC State will go. Programs in the SEC haven't invested heavily in resources while others have made it a priority. It all comes down to each individual program and Yow sees plenty of value to having a broadcast studio.
"[Other ACC schools] can go bare bones if they want to," Yow said. "I don't want to. I think it's critically important for recruiting that we have this in place. All of our sports will be using it. I think that Murphy is the perfect place for it. We don't have to build out or add on to the building at all, we just have the reconfigure the internal areas. That part really worked out for us.
"We hired the company to help us develop this that had worked with Tennessee. They're top of the line, so I think we got what we wanted."
What will be the long-term payout from the network? There is no definitive answer, but SEC schools are already benefiting annually from their channel and contract with ESPN.
"The SEC payout last year, and first year of their network, was $7.5 million per school," Yow said. "One of the SEC AD's is a friend of mine, and he told me last September ... I'm at a meeting and I asked him what he thought the payout would be for this year, which just ended, so we'll know soon. He said he thought it would be $10 million per school, which is an extraordinary difference in resources [for the schools in the SEC]."
With additional revenue for what is essentially an extra recruiting tool, it is no wonder that ACC programs like NC State, and their athletic directors, are eager to see the ACC Network come to fruition.
"We need both the exposure and the cash," Yow said. "Is there a guarantee this is going to happen? No, there is not a guarantee. I have said for a long time I believe that it would. We are just chomping at the bit for it to happen because of the obvious need for the cash as a self-support unit.
"I'm encouraged by that for the future. We need to get there successfully."
NOTE: The renderings below were produced by Anthony James Partners (AJP), a market leader in A/V consulting and representation services. AJP worked with the University of Tennessee to develop the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio in 2014, and has been hired by NC State to construct the Wolfpack's future production studio and technical operation center.
Green Screen Room (Floor View)
Green Screen Room (Aerial View)
Main Control Room
Broadcast Studio (Lobby View)