By Aaron Charles @aaroncharleskc on July 22, 2014
On Aug. 14, 2014, the SEC Network will officially be on the air. It may not be the most profitable college sports network right out of the gate, mainly because it isn't carried by all of the major satellite and cable providers at this point. AT&T, DISH Network, Cox Cable, Comcast and Google Fiber are locked up, and it shouldn't take long for the rest to follow. The SEC Network has more potential for profit than any other college sports network.
The SEC Network plans to air more football games than the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Network, with about 45 a season. There will be three games aired every Saturday. Every SEC fan who pays for television will either switch providers or demand that their current provider pick it up for that reason alone. Coming between a southern football fan and the sport they love will cost every provider who doesn't carry the network when the season opens.
ESPN isn't hurting for money, but they would like to save a little face after an embarrassing deal for the Longhorn Network. The Texas Longhorns don't have enough live sporting events or reach to constitute the $300 million, 20-year deal ESPN made with them. Common sense would suggest that 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week of any one college is not going to be a huge money-maker. ESPN will be motivated to make the SEC Network flourish.
College football fans either love or hate the SEC, which is great for ratings. Almost as satisfying as watching a team you love win is watching a team you hate lose.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany was brilliant for coming up with the conference network idea. The Big Ten Network has been on the air since 2007. It's been an enormous success, giving other conferences somewhat of a blueprint to follow without taking nearly the risk the Big Ten Network did when it started. The Big Ten already did the hard part, basically leaving a treasure map for the SEC and PAC-12.
Conference networks don't get first choice of the games that they air. CBS will get the first crack at SEC games every week, but the SEC is the best equipped conference to provide multiple great games every Saturday. Last season, the SEC had three teams that finished inside the top five, and seven in the top 25. That list doesn't even include big draws like Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas.
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