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ESPN exec: ACC Network negotiations could go down to 'bitter end'

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AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Florida State fans were understandably concerned Wednesday when the ACC and ESPN announced that two of the Seminoles' first three football games this season will be broadcast by the soon-to-be-launched ACC Network.

The issue, of course, is that several major television providers, including Comcast, Spectrum and Dish Network, have yet to reach agreements to carry the conference's new linear channel. And that leaves fans wondering whether they'll be able to see the Seminoles' games against ULM on Sept. 7 and Virginia in Sept. 14.

When asked about those negotiations on Thursday, ACC Commissioner John Swofford and ESPN Executive Vice President Burke Magnus both expressed confidence that deals will be reached with those major carriers. Just don't expect a quick resolution.

The network isn't set to launch until Aug. 22, and Magnus said history indicates that negotiations with cable and satellite providers likely will last until the 11th hour.

"The next three months will be a sprint," said Magnus, who went through a similar process with the launch of the highly successful SEC Network. "It always is. Distribution, if you’ve followed other such circumstances, I think you all know that usually comes down to the bitter end in terms of timing. But we feel really confident going into this process, or continuing, really, this process that has been on-going for a number of months at this point."

Magnus delivered a similar message to the conference's athletics directors and staff members during this week's ACC spring meetings.

He said the conference is highly attractive to sponsors and consumers because of it's track record of success in a wide variety of sports. The fact that the reigning national champions in football (Clemson) and men's basketball (Virginia) both reside in the ACC certainly doesn't hurt.

"I’d like to say that we planned it this way, but you can’t plan sports like that," Magnus said. "But we’ll take the benefit of having the reigning national champions in football and men’s basketball and four other sports. This is not a one-trick pony. This is not just a football network. This is not just a basketball network. This is all of that and more."

There are no guarantees that the network will be picked up by every provider, however.

Swofford encouraged fans of ACC schools to reach out to their cable or satellite company and "demand" that it be carried.

"We want our fans to communicate with their provider, if their provider doesn’t have it at this point in time," Swofford said. "In my totally unbiased opinion (smiling), I think it’s must-see television. And the distributors need to hear that."

FSU-Boise State game time announced

Also on Thursday, the ACC announced that the Seminoles' season opener against Boise State on Saturday, Aug. 31, will kick off at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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