Notre Dame sports fans now have another place to find Fighting Irish teams on television — even if, for some potential viewers, the new venue might be hidden in plain sight.
The ESPN-owned ACC Network debuted August 22, making the Atlantic Coast the latest conference to join the lucrative college sports TV niche that includes channels devoted to Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and University of Texas athletics. The network features numerous Notre Dame games among its 89 fall-season broadcasts, primarily involving Olympic sports teams like men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball but including the November 9 football game at Duke. NBC Sports will continue to broadcast all home football games.
Not all cable and satellite services yet offer the channel, making access a challenge for viewers in some markets. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick ’76 emphasized in a South Bend Tribune interview that the ACC Network is available throughout the country, although possibly not yet from a customer’s current provider. The most high-profile games will remain on flagship networks ESPN and ABC.
Conference television networks generate significant revenue for member schools, in addition to conference earnings from bowl games and other sources. Notre Dame is an ACC member in all sports except football and ice hockey. According to the most recent tax returns of the Power Five conferences, the ACC tied with the Pac-12 for the lowest financial distribution — $29.5 million per full-member school — $25 million less than the Big Ten and $14 million below the SEC.
Swarbrick told the Tribune that the revenues generated by the new network would help close the payout distribution gap while providing a showcase to enhance recruiting in the sports featured on the network.
Current players won’t be the only Fighting Irish athletes on the air. During basketball season, two-time men’s team captain and career shot-block leader Jordan Cornette ’05 will serve as a studio anchor and analyst.