Syracuse Orange fans have many common refrains, and some have more truth to them than others. One, in particular, that pops up around football season is that we “always” get tossed onto local regional sports networks (RSNs).
Now, for some, that’s a plus. If you don’t get the ACC Network through your cable, satellite or streaming provider, then your local RSN (YES Network, for many here) is your only option. But for others, they’d prefer the ACC Network because they get that instead of the RSNs — which don’t have carriage everywhere and are losing their foothold as part of packages.
As Syracuse fans, we usually can’t stand the RSN broadcasts because they typically know very little about the Orange compared to whatever conference foe we’re up against. From a logistical standpoint, however, it would make sense to deem Syracuse a “regional” broadcast considering the nature of the fan base’s interest and its size relative to others in the ACC.
Still... I’m here to let you know that Syracuse does NOT, in fact, appear on RSNs more than others. Since the start of the 2017 season, Orange football has aired on your local RSN or Raycom 16 times. Now, that’s still higher on the list — they’re tied with Pitt for fourth in that stretch — but it’s also not that close to Georgia Tech, which is No. 1 with 24 RSN games over the last five years.
Looking over how network decisions are made is a fun exercise when you really get into it. There’s a lot that factors into where teams are slotted in. And despite competitiveness and watchability being the biggest factors for networks to care about, the league’s actually managed to make things reasonably equitable.
For example, every team’s appeared on ACC Network at least 10 times since its 2019 launch, but Virginia’s wound up there the most times — 18. The distance between UVA atop the list and the halfway point (Duke, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are all tied with 15 apiece) shows they do manage to spread things out. Though if you’re a Hoos fan without ACC Network in your plan, I could see how this would be pretty aggravating.
For those curious, about Syracuse’s specific takeaways:
- SU’s three RSN games this year are tied with Duke and BC for second-most in the league behind Georgia Tech (five)
- The Orange have appeared on the ACC Network five times this year (same as BC and FSU), which is one behind Duke atop the list
- Syracuse’s two national games on ESPN/ABC networks this year are tied for the bottom of the conference with Duke and Georgia Tech, which is probably reasonable
Ultimately, you can see how being better simply fixes a lot of the concerns. In 2018, Syracuse played six games on ESPN/ABC-related networks (beyond just ACCN) and the same was true in 2019 coming off that 10-3 season. I do think certain schools just get sent to RSNs more in part because of where the fan bases are located. But really, wins cure that too, if it’s a concern.
And because you’ll want to know, here’s how SU, BC and Pitt compare, over the five-season stretch:
- ESPN/ESPN2/ABC/ESPNU National: Pitt 22, Syracuse 19, BC 18
- ACC Network: BC 16, Pitt 16, Syracuse 15
- RSN: Pitt 16, Syracuse 16, BC 15
If you’re wondering where the other games are, this doesn’t count bowl games or conference title games. And I calculated an “other” bucket that accounts for both streaming-only games and things like games on non-ESPN networks (like when we visit a MAC team or ACC teams visit Notre Dame so it’s on NBC). Those “other” figures aren’t necessarily large for any team and I chose not to factor them in here since those decisions are largely out of the ACC’s and ESPN’s hands.
You can check out the full data here as well, if desired.