|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2010)|
|Industry||Sports Broadcast Television|
Sales & Marketing
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Area served||22px United States (Nationwide)|
|Key people||Ken Haines |
(President & CEO)
Meineke Car Care Bowl, etc.
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. (It was also a distributor of games from the 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 after longtime producer C. D. Chesley retired. The two companies formed a joint venture, Raycom/JP Sports. From 1983 to 1986, Raycom and JP offered a pay-per-view package called "Season Ticket."
In 2006, the name of the partnership changed to Raycom/LF Sports, the "LF" is Lincoln Financial, the marketing name of Lincoln National Corporation, which purchased Jefferson-Pilot 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 1984. In 2007, Raycom began broadcasting the ACC men's basketball tournament in HD and broadcast 4 ACC men's basketball regular season games in HD in 2008. Raycom Sports also owns and operates the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.
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
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. 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 the Retirement Systems of Alabama-led group bought Ellis in 1996, the Raycom name was so well respected that it chose to rename the entire broadcast group Raycom Media.
Starting in 2010, Raycom Sports has branded its ACC football and basketball games as ACC Network.
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.