|Industry||Sports Broadcast Television
Sales & Marketing
|Founded||1962 (As Jefferson Communications)|
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|United States (Nationwide)|
(President & CEO)
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.
- 1 History
- 2 Personalities
- 3 Other programming
- 4 Availability
- 5 References
What is known today as Raycom Sports was originally known as Jefferson Productions and was founded in 1962 by Jefferson-Pilot Communications, owners of WBT-AM-FM and WBTV-TV. Jefferson Productions was originally intended to produce promos and local television shows for WBTV-TV, but had since grown to producing nationally syndicated talk shows and variety shows; and mainly commercials for major companies that aired nationwide (regardless of the television stations' affiliation). Many of the commercials that Jefferson Communications had fabricated and produced had casted in them actors and actresses fielded by a major talent agency based in Charlotte, North Carolina that is still in business today; Jan Thompson Talent Agency. By the late 1980s, Jefferson Communications refrained to strictly producing syndicated sports programming. When Jefferson-Pilot sold their broadcasting division to Lincoln Financial in 2006, the division became Lincoln Financial Sports, and was then folded into Raycom Sports in 2007.http://btmemories.com/articles/departments/jefferson_productions/commercials/commercials.html
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.
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."
Jefferson-Pilot Sports (later Lincoln Financial Sports) alone produced syndicated Southeastern Conference basketball games from 1987-2006, and SEC football games from 1992-2006. The rights also included parts (if not all) of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament. In addition, Jefferson-Pilot also produced some Olympic programming in the wake of the 1996 Summer Olympics 
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. 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 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.
Starting in 2010, Raycom Sports has branded its ACC football and basketball games as the ACC Network. In 2012 the ACC Network started showing College Hockey games mainly involving Boston College mainly because of them being the only ACC school with a hockey team. In 2014, the ACC Network coverage was expanded to cover 84% of all households in the United States.
Announcers, hosts and reporters
- Jason Johnson Host (2012–present)
- Kevin Corke Play-by-Play (2012–present)
- Todd Kalas reporter (2013–present)
- Mike Crispino play-by-play (2013–present)
- Marv Albert play-by-play (2013–present)
- Dale Murphy reporter (2013–present)
- Mark Jones play-by-play (2013–present)
- Dave Archer analyst (2010–present)
- Tommy Bowden analyst (2011–present)
- Tim Brant play-by-play (2008–present)
- Steve Martin play-by-play (1991–present)
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), the Kansas City Chiefs, and currently handles production of Carolina Panthers preseason football.
Current taped programming
- Havoline Football Saturdays in the South
- Kings of the Court
- BT Memories-Jefferson Productions
- Jefferson Pilot Sports SEC Syndication Package - Promotional Brochure
- Company History - Raycom Sports
- JP-LOGOS.pdf Raycom Sports.
- Raycom Merger Complete. The Charlotte Observer (December 2, 2007).
- Spranberg, Eric (August 25, 2008). "Raycom loses Southeastern Conference". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- ACC Network - Raycom Football Schedule & TV Listings
- Press Release. "ACC Network Has Expanded National Reach" (PDF). Raycom Sports. July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- "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.
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