SBD/December 9, 2013/Media

ESPN Unveils Details On SEC Network; Tessitore Highlights New "SEC Nation" Show

Tessitore is set to host "SEC Nation" alongside other yet-to-be-named panelists
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN Senior VP/Programming Justin Connolly on Friday offered a first look into the upcoming “Take It All In” marketing campaign that will debut in '14 ahead of the August launch of SEC Network. Further coverage details also were announced. The net will carry about 45 football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games and other sporting events. Programming also will include studio shows, "SEC Storied" documentaries, spring football, Signing Day and pro days coverage (ESPN). The net will have a football "tripleheader every Saturday" (OANOW.com, 12/6). The Birmingham News' Jon Solomon on his Twitter feed reported "SEC Storied" documentaries "will go from 4 to 10 in one year," and "6 of those will debut on SEC Network." The next doc, "Bo, Barkley and The Big Hurt," will debut Feb. 24 on ESPNU. Another has the working title "Super Fans" (TWITTER.com, 12/6).

A NEW NATION: Connolly said that he "does not expect" the "SEC Nation" Saturday morning show to impact "College GameDay" ratings. ESPN "will have longer lead-in time" to announce where the show will be located each week. "College GameDay" usually "announces sites one week in advance." Connolly said there is the "possibility" of the two shows "being at the same place, same time." Joe Tessitore will host "SEC Nation" (AL.com, 12/6). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker noted "SEC Nation" will run from 10:00am-12:00pm ET each Saturday. SEC Network "will broadcast its first football games" Aug. 28 in a doubleheader that includes Texas A&M-South Carolina and Temple-Vanderbilt (AJC.com, 12/6). The BIRMINGHAM NEWS' Solomon reported "SEC Nation" will be on campus for Texas A&M-South Carolina and will also be at the Arkansas-Auburn game on Aug. 30. Connolly: "We're going to try to serve a different set of fans. They want the SEC deeper. They want to hear about the pick on every SEC game. They want to see you pick up the brisket off the biggest smoker at tailgate and eat it. They want to see the pageantry, the pep bands. That's how we're going to attack this one" (AL.com, 12/6).

TALENT EVALUATION: SEC Network VP/Production Stephanie Druley said "anybody would want to talk" to free agent QB Tim Tebow should he pursue a TV career. Druley: "He certainly has had a lot of face time, he's great on camera, and he has been a very good ambassador to the conference." Connolly: "I think he would be a great addition if we could ever get him" (AL.com, 12/6). ESPN's Paul Finebaum said of Tessitore, "He's one of my closest friends. He's one of the reasons I'm at ESPN. ... I try not to use cliches but if the phrase 'home run hire' was ever applicable, it's for Joe. I didn't know who they were going to get but the fact that they got Joe shows a commitment from the company to make this into a really big time product." He added, "If you think about this show going to 14 college campuses with Tim Tebow, whether it's Gainesville where the crowds would line up all night or Knoxville where they'd line up all night to boo him or LSU or Alabama, I think he'd be a phenomenal draw" (AL.com, 12/6). Druley said of Tessitore, "He's a proven entity that I think fans like" (MONTGOMERYADVERTISER.com, 12/6).

ADDING ON: Druley said that work begins this week at the 37,000-square foot ESPNU studios in Charlotte "to add dedicated SEC Network studios within the existing space." In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted some business staffers at the studios "will be relocated to a nearby office as ESPN leases additional space." Meanwhile, most of the SEC Network's 100 employees "should be hired" by the spring. Druley and ESPN College Networks Manager Gracie Blackburn "will move to Charlotte" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/6).
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