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October 8, 2006

ACC Select Brings Sports to Niche Audiences

This weekend, I was fortunate(?) enough to watch Bring It On Again, the followup to the popular cheerleading movie from earlier in the decade. The premise of the film was that a renegade group of cheerleaders begin supporting the sports that are not as popular on campus and that no one else is giving attention to, similar to some of those Spartan cheerleader skits from Saturday Night Live a few years ago.

And now there's a product doing something similar for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the college sports organization for schools along the Eastern coast. ACC Select, a new product being offered through Turner Broadcasting (one of our partners here in C3, for the sake of full disclosure), gives voice and public airing to several sports that are not covered elsewhere. Fans of men's and women's soccer, for instance, or field hockey, or volleyball, or wrestling, or track and field, or myriad other sports will be available through this venue.

As the idea of "broadcasting" is further eroded by the popularity of supplying niche programming, situations like this become more and more likely. While most schools with successful sports enterprises might only get basketball or football or perhaps baseball picked up by local affiliates or national cable sports channels, these online spaces become popular distribution mechanisms for other sports.

Does this, in itself, make these other sports more popular? No, but it makes being a fan or the parent or friend of a player a lot more convenient by providing fans a regular place to view their favorite sports and their favorite schools.

The catch phrase for the online network is, "Your sport. Your team. Your games that matter most to you." This idea of programming one's own sports network is particularly appealing to fans who like these types of games that are just all too often brushed over by the major networks.

ACC Select is a good example of the Long Tail theory and the ability of new technologies to meet niche needs that were simply not considered before.

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