Raycom Sports

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Raycom Sports
Industry Sports Broadcast Television
Sales & Marketing
Event Management
Founded June 19, 1979 (1979-06-19)
Headquarters Charlotte, North Carolina
Area served
United States (Nationwide)
Key people
Ken Haines
(President & CEO)
Products ACC Basketball
ACC Football
ACC Properties
Owner Raycom Media
Website www.raycomsports.com

Raycom Sports is an American syndicator of sports television programs. It is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and owned and operated by Raycom Media. It was founded in 1979 by husband and wife, Rick and Dee Ray. Since its inception, it has produced and distributed football and basketball games from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of the NCAA. It was also a distributor of games from the Southeastern, Big Eight, and Big Ten conferences, as well as the now defunct Southwest Conference.



Rick Ray was a program manager at WCCB in Charlotte when he proposed that WCCB produce more basketball games. Ray thought that they would be very profitable for WCCB, given North Carolina's reputation as a college basketball hotbed. However, station management turned him down. Not long after setting up shop, Ray put together an early-season basketball tournament which became the Great Alaska Shootout.

Partnership with Jefferson-Pilot Communications

Two years later, Raycom made what would prove to be its biggest splash when it teamed up with Jefferson-Pilot Communications to take over production of ACC basketball games. The package had begun in 1957 when Greensboro businessman C. D. Chesley piped North Carolina's run to the 1957 national title to a hastily created network of five stations across North Carolina. It proved popular enough that it expanded to a full-time package of basketball games the following season. Chesley retained the rights to ACC games until 1980, when the conference bought him out and sold the rights to MetroSports of Rockville, Maryland. Some ACC games were telecast by Raycom alone in 1980 through four or five television stations in North Carolina, including WCCB. [1]

For the 1980-81 season, the two companies formed a joint venture, Raycom/JP Sports, that won the package after the ACC turned down Metrosports' bid to renew its contract. From 1983 to 1986, Raycom and JP offered a pay-per-view package called "Season Ticket."

In 2006, the name of Raycom's partnership changed to Raycom/LF Sports, the "LF" is Lincoln Financial, the marketing name of Lincoln National Corporation, which purchased the Jefferson-Pilot Corporation that year. As a result of the purchase, Jefferson-Pilot Communications was renamed Lincoln Financial Media.

Starting in 2004, the same partnership took over production of syndicated ACC football games; Jefferson-Pilot had produced ACC football alone since September 1984. In 2007, Raycom began broadcasting the ACC men's basketball tournament in HDTV and broadcast 4 ACC men's basketball regular season games in HD in 2008. In 2002, Raycom also founded the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte. It continued to operate the game, which later changed its name to the Meineke Car Care Bowl, until 2011, when it became the Belk Bowl.

Unlike other sports syndicators, Raycom controlled nearly all advertising for the broadcast, but paid stations for the airtime. While this was a risky strategy at first, Raycom reaped a huge windfall since ACC games frequently garnered ratings in the 20s and 30s. By a happy coincidence, the ACC's regional territory included several fast-growing markets such as Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, the Triangle, Hampton Roads, Richmond, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Purchase of Lincoln Financial Sports

Jefferson-Pilot Sports (later Lincoln Financial Sports) produced syndicated Southeastern Conference basketball games from 1987 to 2006, and SEC football games from 1992 to 2006. The rights also included parts (if not all) of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament.[2][3] In addition, Jefferson-Pilot also produced some Olympic programming in the wake of the 1996 Summer Olympics [4][5]

On November 30, 2007, Raycom purchased Lincoln Financial Sports and took over as syndicator for SEC football and basketball before losing the rights to ESPN Regional Television in 2009.[6][7] Raycom is the sole owner of the broadcast rights for ACC men's basketball and syndicated ACC football through 2010-2011.

Merger with Ellis Communications

In 1994, Raycom Sports merged with Ellis Communications, but remained autonomous, with its own headquarters in Charlotte. When an investment group led by Retirement Systems of Alabama bought Ellis in 1996, the Raycom name was so well respected that it chose to rename the entire broadcast group Raycom Media.

ACC Network

Starting in 2010, Raycom Sports has branded its ACC football and basketball games as the ACC Network.[8] In 2012 the ACC Network started showing College Hockey games mainly involving Boston College, previously the only ACC school with a hockey team until Notre Dame's 2013 entrance. In 2014, the ACC Network coverage was expanded to cover 84% of all households in the United States.[9]


College basketball

College football

College baseball

Other programming

Raycom has also produced specials on Elvis Presley and other non-sports subjects. It was to have produced Team Racing Auto Circuit auto racing in 2003; however, the league folded before an event could be run.

In addition to college sports, Raycom had also produced preseason football showcasing various NFL teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston/Tennessee Oilers (now Tennessee Titans),[10] the Kansas City Chiefs, and currently handles production of Carolina Panthers preseason football. In the 2015 season, Raycom Sports also acquired rights to produce the New Orleans Saints' preseason games. Raycom Media operates the team's flagship station WVUE, which is owned by a group led by Saints owner Tom Benson.[11]

Current taped programming


Raycom Sports games are often part of the out-of-market sports packages ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court, which are available on ESPN3.


  1. "Channel 18 keeps games" (PDF). The Charlotte Observer. January 9, 1980. Retrieved July 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Jefferson Pilot Sports SEC Syndication Package - Promotional Brochure
  3. http://raycomsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/JPFinancial1.pdf
  4. Company History - Raycom Sports
  5. JP-LOGOS.pdf Raycom Sports.
  6. Raycom Merger Complete. The Charlotte Observer (December 2, 2007).
  7. Spranberg, Eric (August 25, 2008). "Raycom loses Southeastern Conference". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  8. ACC Network - Raycom Football Schedule & TV Listings
  9. Press Release. "ACC Network Has Expanded National Reach" (PDF). Raycom Sports. July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Raycom Sports To Broadcast Tennessee Oilers' Preseason Games" (Press Release, July 23, 1997). Archived from the Original on May 29, 1998. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  11. "New Orleans Saints, Raycom Media announce partnership". New Orleans Saints. Retrieved 24 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Lincoln Financial Sports
Syndication Rightsholder to Southeastern Conference football and men's basketball
Succeeded by
ESPN Plus (under SEC TV branding)
Preceded by
MetroSports, Inc.
Syndication Rightsholder to Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball
(co-produced with Jefferson Pilot Sports/Lincoln Financial Sports 1982-2007)
Succeeded by
(under ACC Network branding since 2010)
Preceded by
Jefferson Pilot Sports
Syndication Rightsholder to Atlantic Coast Conference football
2005-present (produced in association with Lincoln Financial Sports 2006-2007)
Succeeded by
(under ACC Network branding since 2010)
Preceded by
Lorimar Sports Network
Syndication rights holder to Metro Conference basketball
Succeeded by
(Metro Conference merged with Great Midwest Conference to create Conference USA)
Preceded by
Lorimar Sports Network
Syndication Rightsholder to Big 10 Conference men's basketball
Succeeded by