Gone are the days of Jefferson Pilot and regionally relegated broadcasts. The long-awaited SEC Network launches in August 2014, beginning a 20-year partnership between the Southeastern Conference and ESPN, representatives of the two parties announced at an event Thursday in Atlanta.
Revenue specifics were not divulged. Conference commissioner Mike Slive responded with a flat “no” when the subject was broached. But he did address content.
“[The SEC Newtork] will have something for every SEC fan, all the time,” Slive said.
Below is the logo, depicting the official name: SEC ESPN Network:
Following in the footsteps of the Big Ten and Pac-12, the SEC is using its new media platform to provide coverage for all of its varsity athletics. Television is central to the SEC-ESPN partnership, but it also includes a wide scale digital presence. Slive’s declaration of “something for every fan” is certainly true when factoring the online distribution into the deal.
Football is obviously central to the SEC Network, and the lynch pin in bringing it into existence. The network will broadcast 45 football games annually, including three games a week for 13 weeks of the season. Meanwhile, the conference is maintaining its agreement with CBS for an exclusive, Saturday afternoon window for SEC games.
“CBS has first pick every week,” Slive said. “Once that pick is taken…we will have a content board, and the decision will be made to determine what games we put on the network. The platforms are ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network.”
The SEC Storied series currently aired on the ESPN channels will appear on the SEC Network. Slive added that “original…school content just for the network,” would be produced. The Big Ten Network broadcasts similar material, including Big Ten Journey.
The SEC started later than its counterparts, but is already ahead of the Pac-12 in one facet; the conference announced an agreement with AT&T U-Verse, a provider that does not carry fledgling the Pac-12 Network.
Both SEC and ESPN brass expect to create a national footprint.
“The SEC is not a regional conference,” said ESPN president John Skipper. “There are a lot of SEC fans in California, and Michigan, and New York, and Connecticut, and Nebraska.”
While this partnership is a monumental departure from SEC coverage of yesteryear, there is one high bar for the new SEC Network to meet from its television past — recreating a pregame introduction as outstanding as this: