The SEC Network is a Thing

By Jason Priestas on May 2, 2013 at 12:48p
SEC commissioner Mike Slive answers questions at the SEC Network kickoff event

After years of talk and discussions about planning, the SEC Network, officially to be known as the SEC ESPN Network, is finally a thing.

The network, a co-venture with ESPN, will debut August, 2014, airing 45 football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games and other events.

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN have signed a 20-year agreement through 2034 to create and operate a multiplatform network, which will launch in August 2014, it was announced today by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN President John Skipper. The new network and its accompanying digital platform will air SEC content 24/7 including more than 1,000 events in its first year.

The 20-year deal is similar to the 51/49 deal the Big Ten entered into with Fox when the Big Ten Network was launched in 2007.

ESPN lined up AT&T U-verse as a launch distributor for the SEC Network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but will likely trickle out at some point.

The network will certainly be successful. College football is too big of a deal for it not to be and they can ape good ideas from the Big Ten Network, like BTN Journey, while avoiding some of the pitfalls, particularly on the distribution side of things, that tripped up the Big Ten Network.

Still, it will be hard to top the BTN's first live event:


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Dr. House's picture

that is not a conflict of interest at all.
we can only hope the sec falls in to mediocrity 3 years in

cplunk's picture

How will this differ from ESPN?

Dr. House's picture

touche plunk touche

FitzBuck's picture

They added SEC to the name.  That's cute.  I guess the commentary and coverage the last 7 years was practice.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Basso Profondo's picture

Well... They finally came out and said what they had not wanted to admit this whole time... That the interests of the two are eternally intertwined... So that's a big difference there.

NC_Buckeye's picture

How will this differ from ESPN?

Uh huh. Definitely this. ^^^^
Just scanning the ESPN section of the channel guide during the spring game weeks -- every fricking game was an SEC team.
As far as content for the what... five ESPN channels now (six now that SEC ESPN exists)... I'm thinking they're going to start broadcasting SEC football weight training as well as daily practices.
Definitely no conflict of interest there.

dubjayfootball90's picture

That video makes me so damn happy

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

drumsontheside's picture

I'm sure it will be a generally successful venture, but I'm really having trouble seeing it come close to the BTN. There's not many people in the midwest that want to watch the SEC when their teams are on BTN, same with PAC 12/west coast market, and same with the central market(texas). Even areas that aren't loyal to other college football programs but aren't part of the south won't be in demand. 
I assume it would be a regional network, as the southern fanbases just don't reach the nation quite like anything else. If I'm right, this goes to show the great success and perfect circumstances of the BTN, and proves that every conference probaby doesn't need a network of that caliber as it is just not a reality.


penult's picture

It's a national network, according to John Skipper.
ESPN and SEC have never been more inseparable. ESPN now owns SEC and most of the bowls (though CBS is still on their knees for the SEC too). Don't forget ABC is owned by ESPN too.  Makes me wonder how this will effect broadcasts of other conference teams such as the B1G games on ABC.  
I can only imagine ESPN will work harder to influence the polls and, as they have recently made a push for, recruiting news. They will have a hand in influencing everything from where recruits sign, when and where games are broadcast, and of course the insufferably almighty narrative in college football which tells us who the best teams are and what bowls they'll play in.  Fox, NBC, God, please someone save us from the SEC/ESPN tyranny...

Dougger's picture

From the way internet writers (EDSBS guys mostly) are talking about it on twitter, it seems like this is the first network in the history of television programming to broadcast 40+ games over 13 weeks.. oh wait that aleady happened.
The conflict of interest between ESPN and SEC through 2034 gives me the feeling that the SEC just will not go away, unlike the rise and fall of conferences in years past... damn you ESPN

I like football

Dr. House's picture

there has to be an early out clause for both parties. I'm sure if the sec makes enough money they will be like why do we need espn. they need us way more than we need them.

rdubs's picture

All of these networks need a production partner.  We have Fox but it just doesn't seem to be quite as co-branded as the ESECPN venture.

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

From the way internet writers (EDSBS guys mostly) are talking about it on twitter, it seems like this is the first network in the history of television programming to broadcast 40+ games over 13 weeks.

Spencer's a Florida alumnus, not a blinded SEC homer.

FROMTHE18's picture

so instead of 55 mins of each hour being dedicated to SEC talk, we should expect all 60 mins?

CincyOSU's picture

Even I think this is BS, and I loves me some ESPN :)

cronimi's picture

Wait, you're all viewing this wrongly. This is a GREAT thing. Now ESPN will move all of its SEC programming/hype to the new SEC Network, returning the network to a more balanced, less SEC-centric production. Because they couldn't get their heads further up the SEC's ass, could they???
(yes, I'm being facetious)

Maestro's picture

Only watch it for live games now, will watch it even less come 2014.

vacuuming sucks

d1145fresh's picture

20 year deal? A kid who will be playing in the SEC during the final year of this contract has yet to be born yet. 
Also I wonder what this payout will be per school? I can't imagine it will be more than the BTN considering the major TV markets the BTN covers as compared to SECESPN. 

cronimi's picture

I think it's safe to say the SEC never would have signed on the dotted line if the number was smaller than what B1G teams get. In fact, I'd wager the number is at least 15% higher than the BTN's current per-school payout -- maybe 25+%.

d1145fresh's picture

I do think the number will be high but, if I am not mistaken, a lot of the revenue comes from sheer number of TV sets carrying the channel in their basic package. This was one of the main reasons for the B1G going after Rutgers (NYC market) and Maryland (D.C. market) in order to have their TV markets. Meanwhile the SEC doesn't really have a lot of large markets. They have Atlanta (8), Maybe Orlando (19) with Florida and maybe Dallas-Ft. Worth (5) or Houston (10) with A&M. Since the station is going to be based in Charlotte, which doesn't make a lot of sense, they would have that market. 
B1G on the other hand has NYC (1) Chicago (3) Philly (4) DC (9) Detroit (11) Minneapolis (15) Cleveland (17) Pittsburgh (23 and that is probably shared some with Pitt). That leads to more TVs carrying the channel and higher advertising rates. 
Either way the SEC is acting like this is the best idea since sliced bread even though the B1G has been doing this for 6 years. 

OSUinFl's picture

You forgot Indy #25
Maybe Baltimore they have  a few Penn State alums there.
Sec has Nashville they have high tv ratings for college football. That city is a bunch of SEC homers.

cronimi's picture

This all assumes that the SEC Network will be treated as a standalone product, which will have to live or die on its own merits and popularity. But it's ESPN's SEC Network, so I wouldn't be surprised if they implicitly or explicitly forced cable providers to pick up the station, if not immediately, then at the next contract renewal. So don't look at the SEC's footprint to figure out where this network will air, look at ESPN's footprint. Through that prism, it's really easy to generate a record-breaking rights fee for the SEC members.

d1145fresh's picture

I do agree that ESPN will package this network with their other networks but if I am not mistaken there are 2 ESPN packages right now. Basic has ESPN and ESPN 2 and then there is ESPN News, ESPNU, ESPN Classic etc. If they don't get on that basic tier level in major markets that is going to hurt their numbers. B1G has been added to basic level in all the markets around B1G which is pretty large. 

brylee's picture

I was in Charlotte last October, and watched the OSU/Indiana game on BTN...which surprised me that they had this channel down there.

bucksk1n's picture

I think the big question that nobody understands yet is:
"Can ESPN use their leverage with their other channels to force ESPN-SEC to be on the basic tier outside their own footprint?"
The B1G has to rely on fans to pressure cable companies to put their network on the basic tier @ $1/month.  I think outside their footprint the cost drops to around $.20.  This works well as they make good money in their home markets while getting exposure in the rest of the country.
The SEC has more weapons with ESPN.  If ESPN told every cable company that ESPN/ESPN-SEC were a package deal it would pressure many to carry both.  That would set an interesting precedent though similar things have been happening for years.  Television entertainment is mostly owned by about 6 companies and all of them (CBS, Time Warner, News Corp, Viacom, Disney, and Comcast) are trying to get sports in their portfolio.  As the cable companies learned long ago, nothing drives people to sign up for services more than sports.  I know I would have cut my cable long ago if not for the fact I'd lose the ability to watch Ohio State football when it is on BTN or ESPN.  
The only question is whether ESPN can use their other networks to force cable companies to sign up for a service their customers don't want.  Networks have been pushing the edges of this for years and the cable companies are starting to push back.  ESPN can't push too hard as I think a court would certainly rule against them if the cable companies could prove they were using unfair monopolistic pressure.
If that is the case then it comes down to households.  Currently the numbers breakdown like this:
Big Ten Households:
26.9 Traditional Geography
 0.8 Nebraska
 3.6 Maryland
 2.0 New Jersey (Philadelphia is included in Traditional Geography - NYC is another 5+ million HH)
33.1 Total Households
SEC Households:
15.9 Traditional Geography
 2.8 Missouri (this is why I wanted them in the B1G and why the SEC was smart to get them)
 8.6 Texas (I doubt ESPN-SEC will get all the markets - will Austin or El Paso care about A&M?)
27.3 Total Households
Things get confused in markets like St. Louis, Philadelphia or Charlotte but even giving the SEC the entire state of Texas (which won't happen), they still can't reach the B1G level of profitability in their market footprint.  I'd expect the final payout to be around 20% less than BTN which is still a lot better than most other conferences for their 3rd tier content.

cronimi's picture

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but will likely trickle out at some point.

If only there were a sports-centric news organization out there that could dig up those terms. Maybe one with some ties to a party to the deal. Too bad there isn't....

OSUinFl's picture

They will want to go a 9 game league schedule in a couple years. Florida,south Carolina and Georgia will vote no. They already play a tough out of conference  game.
    There some serious talk the Ncaa football will be 8 team format. This means any big time program can't schedule cupcakes any more. You need at least 1 hard game a year out conference.

OSUinFl's picture

The sec had  buy buy a lot football games back from the TV cable companies  In Nashville Ion tv carries a Sec game every Saturday at 11:00 am. I would still think CBS gets the first game of every Saturday game it wants. There is no way Espn get Bama and Texas Am if it played at 3:30.
     Clay Travis is a Vandy Alum and his wife is from scum.. He walked across the street in a blizard to see a  sec football game. Good luck with the basketball tv ratings there basketball sucks

tdible2132's picture

Bleep the SEC. That is all.

OSUinFl's picture

Espn owns the network and SEC owns the content.

rampageripster's picture

If it is true that ESPN owns 100%, SEC won't get BTN type money.  The reason we got such a good deal with Fox for the BTN was that it was not a proven concept.  Now that a conference-only network is a proven success, ESPN is totally ok with taking full responsibility for it's success/failure.  The immediate payout may be higher, but the long term money is much better for the B1G.

Cause I couldn't go for three

Hovenaut's picture

Just in time for College Football Playoffs.

How very super.

Haybucks's picture

You're right about this being a super conflict.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


tussey's picture

ESPN8: The Ocho

DJRoss926's picture

"It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em."

OSUinFl's picture

I can't wait for Fox all sports station in August. Fox has been stealing ESPN talent.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

 ESPN talent


"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Dr. House's picture

espn can keep the following skip bayless stephen a smith chris berman and the idea of embrace debate. screw espn.

Savage45's picture

Congrats sec you're only 6 years behind!

OSUinFl's picture

Like Carisa Thompson she is hot . She was a fox once before. Before going to espn. I wonder if fox will show more big ten games if the big ten games as we are partners.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

She's cute. It wouldn't hurt her to gain 10lbs.

I thought she was on BTN before going to ESPiN.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

OSUinFl's picture

She did work for the Big ten network. I would post a picture I have trouble posting a picture on my iphone.

dumpus's picture

and natch, leave it up to ESPN Lite (err...SB Nation) to give their non-slanted take on the BTN vs the SEC network...

NoVA Buckeye's picture

SB Nation > ESPN any day of the week.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

OSUinFl's picture

There only one problem for sec there a lot of transplants in south and they hate the sec.  South of Orlando will be ACC  tv. 

OSUinFl's picture

I believe the BTN contract  in  few years . I heard  some of big networks will go after the big ten. They want the large  markets. I won't be supervise  if fox 1 goes after the big ten . Fox 1 will  air around aug 14  with Carisa Thomason  as co anchor of a sports center. Some Canadian guys will be on there really funny people.