It was founded in 1979 by husband and wife, Rick and Dee Ray. In the 1980's, Raycom Sports established a prominent joint venture with Jefferson-Pilot Communications which made them partners on the main Atlantic Coast Conference basketball package. Raycom was acquired in 1994 by Ellis Communications. Two years later, Ellis was acquired by a group led by Retirement Systems of Alabama, who renamed the entire company Raycom Media to build upon the awareness of Raycom Sports. The company would be acquired by Gray Television in 2019.
The company was well-known for its tenure with the ACC, and has also had former relationships with the SEC, Big Eight, and Big Ten conferences, as well as the now-defunct Southwest Conference. In the 2010's, Raycom lost both its ACC and SEC rights to ESPN (a network which had, in its early years, picked up Raycom-distributed ACC basketball games for national broadcasts), and transferred these rights to in-house cable networks.
The company also produces sports telecasts for other entities; via Raycom Sports or related operation Tupelo Raycom, Gray produces NFL preseason games for several teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
|Founded||June 19, 1979|
|Founders||Rick and Dee Ray|
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|United States (Nationwide)|
|Hunter Nickell (CEO)|
Number of employees
Raycom Sports was started in July 1979 by Rick and Dee Ray in Charlotte. Rick Ray was a program manager at WCCB in Charlotte when he proposed that WCCB, which had become an independent station a year earlier after losing its ABC affiliation, produce more basketball games. Ray thought that they would be very profitable for WCCB, given North Carolina's reputation as a college basketball hotbed.
The company's first event was the Great Alaska Shootout. Ken Haines was one of the first hired for Raycom Sports. In its first year, it also acquired rights to basketball games from the Atlantic Coast Conference: some of them were syndicated to a newly-launched cable sports channel, ESPN. In 1988, Raycom added Big Ten Conference games to its portfolio after acquiring Rasmussen Communications. The company also extended its contract through 1995 to gain rights to all non-network conference games. The following year, Raycom established a radio division, acquiring the rights to the University of Illinois and Purdue University radio networks.
In 1980, 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.
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. Raycom also assisted ESPN2 by selling a mid-1990s Duke-Carolina basketball game that increased the channel's credibility with cable operators. In the 1982 season, Raycom experimented with a cable-oriented ACC service known as ACC Ticket. Raycom had built a large array of broadcasting rights until the 1990s, with rights for ACC, SEC, Pac-10, Metro, Big Eight, Big 12, and Southwest conferences. Raycom sub-licensed ACC games to national broadcasters (including CBS, and ESPN), regional sports networks, and local stations. However, with the rise of cable and regional sports networks, Raycom began to lose many of its college rights to competitors..
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. The ACC's regional territory happened to include several fast-growing markets such as Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, the Triangle, Hampton Roads, Richmond, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
In 1994, Raycom Sports was sold to Ellis Communications, but remained autonomous, with its own headquarters in Charlotte. Dee Ray left in 1994 while Rick Ray left in 1995. 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.
In 1994, Raycom first organized a pre-season event known as the Great Eight, televised by ESPN, which aimed to feature two nights of doubleheaders between regional finalists from the previous season's NCAA tournament (with the highest-ranked team eliminated before the regional finals serving as a backup if a team declined an invitation). The inaugural edition featured Boston College, Duke, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Purdue, Villanova, and UConn (which replaced Arkansas as a backup). Several teams (including defending champion UCLA, Connecticut and North Carolina) declined invites, while Michigan State received an invite. In 1996, the event moved to United Center under a five-year contract.
In 2002, Raycom founded the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte. It continues to operate the game, which later changed its name to the Meineke Car Care Bowl until 2011, when it became the Belk Bowl.
Starting in 2004, the Raycom/JP 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 2006, in accordance with Lincoln National Corporation's acquisition of Jefferson-Pilot, Jefferson-Pilot Communications was renamed Lincoln Financial Media, and the venture was renamed Raycom/LF Sports.
On November 12, 2007, Raycom Media announced its intention to acquire some of the television broadcasting properties of Lincoln Financial Media—including three television stations, plus Lincoln Financial Sports—for $583 million. Lincoln Financial Sports was merged into Raycom Sports later that year, giving it full control over basketball and football rights for both the ACC and SEC.
In 2008, Raycom lost its SEC rights to ESPN, who reached a 15-year deal to become its main media rightsholder alongside CBS. ESPN continued to provide a syndicated package of games in a similar manner to Raycom, produced via its own syndication division under the on-air branding SEC Network until the launch of an SEC cable network under the same name in 2014.
In 2010, ESPN also acquired rights to ACC football and basketball, replacing Raycom. In a discussion between ACC commissioner John Swofford and then-ESPN president John Skipper, Swofford acknowledged Raycom's long-standing relationship with the conference, and requested that it continue to be involved in some way. ESPN ultimately negotiated a sub-licensing agreement with Raycom, which would allow it to continue producing a syndicated package of ACC football and basketball broadcasts (which, as a condition of the deal, were rebranded under the new on-air title ACC Network in 2010). Additionally, Raycom became responsible for the ACC's digital media operations and sponsorship sales.
In 2012, Raycom Media acquired Tupelo-Honey, a producer of sports and entertainment programming. Three years later, it also acquired WebStream Sports, an Indianapolis-based producer of sports programming. In late-2016, the companies were merged to form the subsidiary Tupelo Raycom.
In January 2018, Raycom Sports announced a partnership with Blizzard Entertainment to produce a weekly television program chronicling Heroes of the Dorm—the official collegiate tournament of its video game Heroes of the Storm.
On July 21, 2016, ESPN announced a 20-year extension of its contract with the ACC, and the launch of an ACC Network cable channel in 2019. ESPN also acquired the secondary ACC rights previously held by Raycom. However, Raycom Sports will continue to serve as the ACC's digital partner, and be subcontracted by ESPN to produce event coverage for the new ACC Network. Raycom's final syndicated ACC telecast was the 2019 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament final.
In addition to college sports, Raycom has also produced preseason games for various National Football League teams. Through either Raycom Sports or Tupelo Raycom, it has produced games for the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants (since 2010), New Orleans Saints (since 2015: team flagship WVUE was owned by a group led by Saints owner Tom Benson and operated by Raycom, and was subsequently acquired by Raycom outright), and the Atlanta Falcons (since 2017).
Lincoln Financial Sports
| Syndication Rightsholder to Southeastern Conference football and men's basketball
ESPN Plus (under SEC TV branding)
| Syndication Rightsholder to Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball
(co-produced with Jefferson Pilot Sports/Lincoln Financial Sports 1982–2007)
(under ACC Network branding beginning in August 2019)
Jefferson Pilot Sports
| Syndication Rightsholder to Atlantic Coast Conference football
2005–present (produced in association with Lincoln Financial Sports 2006–2007)
(under ACC Network branding beginning in August 2019)
Lorimar Sports Network
| Syndication rights holder to Metro Conference basketball
(Metro Conference merged with Great Midwest Conference to create Conference USA)
Rassmussen Communications Management (RCM Sports)
| Syndication Rightsholder to Big 10 Conference men's basketball
The 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament took place from March 13–16, 2008, at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. The tournament was broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, along with Raycom Sports in the ACC footprint. Both broadcasters had the games available in HD.
Florida State and Miami won their first-round games for the second year in a row. Miami became the first #5 seed to win an ACC tournament game since the conference expanded to 12 teams. The past two seasons, the #12 seed pulled off the upset.
Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina was named tournament MVP.2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament
The 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament took place from March 12–15 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The tournament was broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, along with Raycom Sports in the ACC footprint.
The championship game matched Duke against Florida State, who made their first appearance in the ACC championship game since joining the league in 1992. Duke won 79–69 for their 8th conference title in 11 years.2009–10 Virginia Tech Hokies men's basketball team
The 2009–10 Virginia Tech Hokies men's basketball team represented the Virginia Tech in the 2009–10 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Hokies were coached by Seth Greenberg and played their home games at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Hokies are a members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. They finished the season 25–9, 10–6 in ACC play and lost in the quarterfinals of the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. They were invited to the 2010 National Invitation Tournament where they advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Rhode Island.2010 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament
The 2010 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament was held March 11–14, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena. The first, quarterfinal, and semifinal rounds were televised by SEC TV and the semifinals and finals were broadcast nationwide on ABC, with the exception of the majority of South Carolina markets.
The weekend games did not air in the market of the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia. ABC affiliate WOLO pre-empted the game and aired the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal and final matches instead, per syndication contract with Raycom Sports, with the current Raycom-WOLO contract continuing until the 2011 tournament. The games also did not air in the Greenville-Spartanburg area (also Asheville, NC), as ABC affiliate WLOS also aired the ACC tournament. Raycom had owned the syndication rights to SEC sports prior to this season.ACC Network (Raycom Sports)
ACC Network was a syndicated package of college sports telecasts featuring football and basketball events from the Atlantic Coast Conference, produced by Raycom Sports, the sports syndication unit of Montgomery, Alabama-based Raycom Media (now owned by Gray Television).
The package stemmed from a joint venture between Raycom and Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions, which acquired the rights to ACC basketball in 1982 under the banner Raycom/JP Sports. In 2004, Jefferson-Pilot's ACC football package (which began in 1984) was also moved under Raycom/JP Sports. Jefferson-Pilot was acquired by Lincoln National Corporation in 2006, who would in turn sell its media assets to Raycom in 2006. In 2010, ESPN acquired the rights to ACC basketball and football, but continued to sub-license games to Raycom Sports to continue the syndicated package, which was relaunched under the ACC Network brand. Broadcast games were shown locally on over-the-air broadcast stations, regional sports networks, as well as streaming on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.In July 2016, ESPN announced an extension of its contract and plans to launch an ACC cable channel of the same name in 2019, and took ownership of the ACC rights that were previously sub-licensed to Raycom. In anticipation of the new channel, the "ACC Network" branding during its syndicated telecasts was phased out in 2018. Although ESPN will continue to subcontract Raycom Sports resources for the new channel, Raycom's final syndicated ACC telecast—the 2019 ACC men's basketball championship game—aired March 16, 2019.Big 12 Network
The Big 12 Network (stylized as the Big XII Network) was a syndicated package featuring live broadcasts of College basketball events from the Big 12 Conference that was broadcast under that branding from 2008 until 2014. It was owned and operated by ESPN Plus, the syndication arm of ESPN, Inc., and was mainly shown in areas in the Big 12’s geographical footprint, along with other areas of the United States. Games were shown locally on broadcast stations, regional sports networks, as well as on ESPN Full Court, and WatchESPN.Cory Alexander
Cory Lynn Alexander (born June 22, 1973) is an American former professional basketball player who is now an announcer for college basketball.
After a career at the University of Virginia (having graduated with a degree in psychology), Alexander was the 29th overall selection in the 1995 NBA draft, chosen by the San Antonio Spurs. He played for the Spurs, the Denver Nuggets, the Orlando Magic and, after a three-year absence from the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats. His NBA career averages include 5.5 points and 2.7 assists per game. He later became a commentator for the ACC Network (Raycom Sports). Cory is currently working for ESPN as a college basketball commentator. He also runs Cory Alexander Basketball School in Richmond, Virginia.Don McGuire
Don McGuire is a television sports executive. He was executive producer at Turner Sports' TBS and TNT, Raycom Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He has won multiple Emmy, Cine and CableAce awards and was executive producer for the startup of Raycom Sports in 1983 and oversaw the fast growth of Ted Turner's sports TV operations from 1987 to 1995 as Executive Producer and then Senior VP. He served as executive producer at the Golf Channel from 1999 to 2000 and was senior vice president for programming and production at the Golf Channel when the channel became the exclusive cable outlet for the LPGA and PGA Tour.ESPN Events
ESPN Events is an American sporting event promoter owned by ESPN Inc. It is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and shares its operations with SEC Network and formerly with ESPNU. The corporation organizes sporting events for broadcast across the ESPN family of networks, including, most prominently, a group of college football bowl games and in-season college basketball tournaments.
ESPN Events previously operated primarily as a syndicator of college sports broadcasts; the company was founded as Creative Sports, a sports programming syndicator that merged with Don Ohlmeyer's OCC Sports in 1996. After ESPN purchased the merged company, the division was renamed ESPN Regional Television (ERT), which distributed telecasts for syndication on broadcast stations and regional sports networks; these telecasts were also available on the ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court out-of-market sports packages. Most of ERT's broadcasts were presented under the on-air branding ESPN Plus, but this name was later phased out in favor of dedicated on-air brands for each package, such as SEC Network (not to be confused with the current SEC Network cable channel).
Following its acquisition of the Las Vegas Bowl in 2001, ERT began to double as an organizer of sporting events. The subdivision, which later began to operate under the name ESPN Events, would acquire and establish other bowl games to provide additional post-season opportunities for bowl-eligible teams (and in turn, additional content for ESPN's networks). ESPN Events also organizes several pre-season tournaments in college basketball, as well as the season-opening Camping World Kickoff and Texas Kickoff football games.ESPN Regional Television began to wind down its syndication operations in the 2010s, as the proliferation of competing outlets (including other sports channels, conference-specific networks such as ESPN's own SEC Network, as well as digital services such as ESPN's own ESPN3 and WatchESPN platforms) took over most of the conference rights and overflow formerly held by the company.ESPN GamePlan
ESPN GamePlan was an out-of-market sports package offering college football games to viewers throughout the United States.
GamePlan began on Labor Day weekend, and continued through the first Saturday in December. It included all regional telecasts on ABC, as well as games from various syndicators like ESPN Plus, Raycom Sports and SportsWest, and some local stations like Allentown, Pennsylvania's WFMZ-TV which broadcast locally-produced college football games. Viewers could watch games from their cable or satellite provider or on the ESPN3 broadband Internet service.
Eventually, with carriage of ESPN3 moving from computers only to smartphones, tablets and digital media players allowing access without any additional fees, GamePlan became a superfluous package, with only the few providers who refused to offer ESPN3 or where ESPN3 access was limited (for instance, rural areas) really able to compel viewers to use the service.
On August 28, 2015, the package was discontinued, along with ESPN Full Court, to make way for ESPN College Extra, which will offer a select bundle of games that would previously have been broadcast by GamePlan and Full Court.Lincoln Financial Media
Lincoln Financial Media was a subsidiary of Lincoln National Corporation that owns radio stations in the United States. The division was formed in 2006 following the company's acquisition of Jefferson-Pilot's television and radio operations, which were renamed Lincoln Financial Media.
The group, at the time of its closure, owned 14 radio stations in Miami, Florida, San Diego, California, Denver, Colorado, and Atlanta, Georgia. It also owned WBT, WBT-FM, and WLNK (FM) in Charlotte, NC and WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte; WCSC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Charleston, South Carolina and WWBT, the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Virginia.List of ACC Network (Raycom Sports) affiliates
The following is a list of affiliates with the former ACC Network, an ad hoc syndicated sports network operated by Raycom Sports and featuring the athletic teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference. This network is not to be confused with the ACC Network linear channel announced on 2016 July 21 by the league and ESPN, which is slated for launch in 2019. The stations listed below include all stations that broadcast the syndication package.
Note: The ACC Men's Basketball Tournament is not broadcast by ACC Network affiliates outside the ACC's geographical footprint as ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU have rights to that tournament in areas outside the ACC footprint. The ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU broadcasts of the tournament are no longer blacked out in areas inside the ACC's footprint, which as of 2014, includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.The current ACC Network includes:
35 CW affiliates (including WTTO in Birmingham, WCCT in Hartford, WTOG in Tampa, WUPA in Atlanta, WNOL in New Orleans, WKBD in Detroit, KPLR in St. Louis and KMYS in San Antonio)
32 MyNetworkTV affiliates (including WUXP in Nashville, WDCA in Washington, WNDY in Indianapolis, WUAB in Cleveland, and WCGV in Milwaukee)
19 independent stations (including WLNY in New York, KDOC in Los Angeles, and KTXA in Dallas)
11 CBS affiliates (including WFOR in Miami, WJZ in Baltimore and WBTV in Charlotte)
10 NBC affiliates (including WRAL in Raleigh)
9 ABC affiliates (including WHAS in Louisville, WPVI in Philadelphia and WTAE in Pittsburgh)List of Liberty Bowl broadcasters
The following is a list of the television networks and announcers who have broadcast college football's Liberty Bowl throughout the years.Lorimar Sports Network
The Lorimar Sports Network, or LSN, was an American ad hoc television network providing syndicated college football and basketball. It was based at Lorimar's original headquarters in Culver City, California, with an additional office in Dallas, Texas. It was in operation from 1983 until 1986.Mike Hogewood
Michael Ashley "Mike" Hogewood (September 13, 1954 – September 5, 2018) was an American sportscaster. He was a play-by-play announcer, studio host, and sideline reporter.
Hogewood was best known for calling play-by-play and sideline reporting on ACC college football and basketball for Raycom Sports (from the mid-1990s until 2013), and for calling play-by-play and being a pit reporter on NASCAR Cup, Busch and Truck series races for TNN Sports (from 1997-2000) and Turner Sports (from 1997-2001).SEC TV
SEC TV (formerly SEC Network) was a syndicated package featuring live broadcasts of college football and basketball events from the Southeastern Conference. It was owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television and shown in more than 50 percent of households in the United States, mostly Southeastern United States markets. SEC TV's football games typically aired in the noon eastern slot that was former home to the Jefferson-Pilot/Raycom Sports SEC game of the week. Games were shown locally on broadcast stations, regional sports networks, as well as on ESPN GamePlan, ESPN Full Court, and WatchESPN.
SEC TV was replaced with a 24-hour cable network devoted to the conference, also named SEC Network, after the 2013–14 college sports season. The new SEC Network would assume the duty of broadcasting football games in the "early" window used by SEC TV.Tim Brando
Tim Brando is an American sportscaster with Fox Sports and Raycom Sports. Formerly with CBS Sports, ESPN and SiriusXM, Brando has primarily covered NCAA football and basketball. Along with radio duties, Brando has also served as a studio host for games, a play-by-play announcer, and halftime host.Tim Brant
Tim Brant (born February 26, 1949 in Washington, DC) is a retired American sportscaster. Brant most recently worked for Raycom Sports and was formerly Vice President, Sports for WJLA-TV in Washington, DC. He has spent more than thirty years covering sports nationally, including for CBS and ABC.
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