SEC Network is official: Now the details

semerson@macon.comMay 2, 2013 

SEMERSON@MACON.COM

ATLANTA - Breaking news: The SEC and ESPN have lots of money, and are going to make gobs more.

That's essentially what Thursday's official announcement of the SEC Network means. The conference and ESPN are making a big deal out of the announcement, bringing in more than 30 coaches and administrators, and heralding this as another important step for the conference.

Of course, it really does just boil down to money, and what more money will mean for the conference. Football scheduling also figures into it, and the SEC could have some additional details on what all this means.

I'll pass along all details and anything else of interest, with most recent posts coming first:

Scheduling issues

Asked about whether this impacts a potential nine-game SEC schedule, Slive said he does anticipate more discussion about scheduling, possibly at the SEC meetings later this month.

"People have asked me what my view is. I've said I'm open-minded," Slive said.

(But it bears noting that almost all the football coaches sitting behind Slive are against going to nine games.)

As for game times, CBS will retain the first pick for which SEC game it wants each week. After that, Slive said scheduling discussions go to what he called a "content board." Basically any other game will be on an ESPN platform, including the SEC Network, with other outlets for what Slive called "overflow" games.

But CBS won't have an exclusive window for its 3:30 p.m. games. The SEC Network or ESPN could have a game going on at that time too.

Distribution details

AT&T U-Verse has become the first outlet to agree to carry the SEC Network, an ESPN official has announced. More distributors are being sought, so that means work remains to be done to get the network on bigger carriers such as Comcast, DirecTV and Cox.

"Generally speaking, we will target the widest distribution possible in the 11-state (SEC) footprint," ESPN's Justin Connolly said. "And then outside that footprint, target a level of service that is comparable to ESPNU today."

ESPN president John Skipper then jumped in.

"We believe the SEC has national appeal. This is not a regional network," Skipper said. "This is a national network."

Each SEC school will produce content for the network. Connolly said the aim will be to bring the "passion and identity of the SEC on screen."

"This is taking this to a whole new level," Skipper said. "I don't think our intention is to compare this to anything else."

Interestingly, SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to break down how much ESPN and SEC each own the network. For instance, the Big Ten is 51 percent owned by Fox Sports, and 49 percent by the conference.

"We have structured it in such a way that is best for both of us," Slive said. "The actual details we're not going to discuss at this time. We're both happy."

Three football games a week

SEC commissioner Mike Slive took the podium, and first addressed the fact that 16 days ago they planned to make this announcement, but it was postponed because of the Boston Marathon bombings. He paid his respects.

Then he got into details on the SEC Network, which launches in August of 2014.

"This is an exciting day for all of us," Slive said. "Today we take yet another step to ensure the long-term strength of the league. For the first time, a conference will launch a network in collaboration with its primary overall media rights partner."

Here are the details:

- The SEC Network will have three football games each week, adding up to about 45 football games annually.

- There will be more than 100 basketball games, and 45 baseball games, annually on the SEC Network.

- There will be a total of 1,000 live sporting events every year, with 450 televised on the network, and 550 distributed digitally. (In other words, online.)

Luminaries in attendance:

Every SEC head football coach is here, along with others from different sports. The representatives from UGA are football's Mark Richt, swimming's Jack Bauerle, women's basketball's Andy Landers, and athletics director Greg McGarity.

They're sitting the coaches in alphabetical order, which results in this just wonderful trio: Richt, then Nick Saban, then Steve Spurrier. It's quite a sight.

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