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Comcast adding ACC Network

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Finally.

Comcast (Xfinity) cable customers have been unable to watch the ACC Network since that channel’s debut in the summer of 2019, but that will soon change.

Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and the ACC announced Tuesday that Comcast will add the ACC Network as part of a new overall deal to carry Disney-owned cable channels.

Comcast will add the ACC Network “in the coming weeks,” according to a a news release Tuesday. Comcast had been the only major cable or satellite company that was not carrying the ACC Network.

Comcast cable has customers in Botetourt, Montgomery, Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Henry, Pulaski, Patrick, Smyth, Rockbridge and Wythe counties, as well as in Salem, Martinsville, Buena Vista, Galax and Lexington.

Comcast had been negotiating a new overall deal to carry Disney-owned channels. Comcast had been unwilling to add the channel before the old deal expired. Disney/ESPN wanted Comcast to add the ACC Network as part of a new overall deal.

The deal renewal announced Tuesday covers a multitude of Disney’s cable channels, including the ACC Network, ESPN, ESPN2, the SEC Network, the Disney Channel, Freeform, FX and National Geographic.

“We are thrilled that ACC Network has reached full distribution with the addition of Comcast to our already robust lineup of providers,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a news release. “This is a milestone moment in the short history of ACCN and we appreciate the continued leadership at Disney, ESPN and ACCN for working diligently to make this a reality.”

The addition of the ACC Network to the Comcast channel lineup means Comcast customers will also gain access to all the games that air online on ACC Network Extra, which is available on ESPN.com and the ESPN app only to viewers that get the ACC Network television channel.

The old, 10-year-old overall deal between Comcast and Disney was due to expire in September but had been extended so it could remain in effect while the negotiations for a new deal continued, a source familiar with the situation had said in October. That source had said that with the TV landscape having changed so much in the last 10 years — such as the rise of streaming services providing new competition to cable companies — negotiations for a new deal were complicated.

On ACC football media day in July, Phillips was hopeful that Comcast would add the ACC Network to its channel lineup before this college football season began. But that did not happen.

The ACC tried to put pressure on Comcast by putting attractive games on the ACC Network, such as the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech football game in October.

On ACC men’s basketball media day in October, Phillips said that “we’re really close” to getting the ACC Network on Comcast and that he was “optimistic about getting this thing done.”

Comcast customers wound up going this entire football regular season without being able to see Virginia Tech and Virginia games on the ACC Network, including last weekend’s Hokies-Cavaliers clash. This was the third straight football season that Comcast viewers were without the ACC Network.

Comcast customers have also been without the ACC Network for the first month of the new basketball season, just as they were without the channel for the past two basketball seasons.

With the parties saying only that Comcast will add the channel “in the coming weeks,” that likely means Comcast customers still will not be able to watch the ACC Network telecast of the UVa men’s basketball team’s ACC opener against Pittsburgh on Friday; the ACC Network telecast of the Tech men’s basketball team’s ACC opener against Wake Forest on Saturday; nor the ACC Network telecast of the Hokies women’s basketball team’s game against No. 11 Tennessee on Sunday.

The ACC Network has already been available on Cox cable, Shentel cable, Citizens cable, Suddenlink cable, the Dish Network satellite service, the DirecTV satellite service, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV, among other sources. The addition of Comcast will make the ACC Network available in 90 million homes.

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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