David M. HaleESPN Staff Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After years of build-up, the ACC Network has an official launch date and a debut football game.
The linear ACC Network, which has been in the works since the league agreed to a 20-year contract with ESPN in 2016, will officially launch on Aug. 22, 2019, according to commissioner John Swofford. One week later, Georgia Tech and Clemson will face off in the first football game broadcast on the network.
“We continue to look at the launch of the ACC Network with great anticipation,” Swofford said, “and this is another step in the process.”
Swofford made the announcement a day before Clemson and Pitt will face off in the ACC championship game, and he said the league continues to look at ways to add high value inventory for the network.
Swofford said other schools are considering moving conference games to earlier in the season in order to offer better inventory and that at least one of the five games Notre Dame will play against ACC teams could be added during the season, as well. Swofford said he expects the full schedule of football games to be ready by early February.
“The thing that’s been really good from our schools is that they’re all in on the network,” Swofford said. “Everybody understands the importance of scheduling.”
As scheduling goes, however, Swofford said he didn’t anticipate any major changes in divisional alignments in the ACC, where Clemson and Florida State have had a decade-long stranglehold on the Atlantic, and the Coastal has placed six different teams in the league’s championship game in the past six years. Swofford said he also did not anticipate the league moving to a nine-game conference slate, as the idea has little appeal to the majority of athletics directors.
Swofford was also asked about playoff expansion, and he said there was little momentum for that in the near term. He added that, should the playoff expand to eight teams, he would likely favor keeping the league’s championship game and potentially eliminating a regular season game or starting the regular season earlier.