SBD/March 12, 2014/Media

Musburger, Palmer Named Lead SEC Net Announcers, Given Contract Extensions

Slive is preaching caution until officials know more about network distribution
Play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger and analyst Jesse Palmer will be the lead announcers for the ESPN-owned SEC Network. Their first assignment will be the Aug. 28 Texas A&M-South Carolina game. Musburger and Palmer also will call multiple college football bowl games on ESPN. Musburger signed a multi-year contract extension with ESPN and in addition to calling one of three games the net broadcasts each Saturday, he will remain a play-by-play announcer for Big 12 basketball games on ESPN's networks. Palmer also reached a new agreement with ESPN in which he will continue as an analyst on the net's "Thursday Night College Football" package (ESPN).

SPREADING THE WEALTH: In Birmingham, Jon Solomon wrote the SEC Network could eventually "double TV revenue for each school," but how much money the network makes is "predicated on how wide the distribution is." That bigger payoff "isn't here yet, and no one knows how quickly ESPN will get full distribution for the channel." Solomon noted the SEC Network is "already committed to be in approximately 20 million homes when it launches" Aug. 14, but even SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is "preaching caution." Slive said, "The network has significant revenue potential, but it's premature to try to project until you know more about distribution." Vanderbilt AD David Williams said that he is budgeting about a 30% "increase in revenue" for '14-15, with "about a $300,000 increase from broadcast networks." The budgets "come as many SEC athletics departments are investing money to build up their capability to produce games." Schools are being "asked to produce games for the digital component of the SEC Network." Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said he is budgeting "very conservatively" for '14-15 television revenue. However, Jacobs added that he is spending approximately $3.5M for "a new control room, fiber that runs to venues, and equipment." To get full distribution "at the rates they want, the SEC and ESPN are banking on rabid SEC fans to demand their cable and satellite operators pay for the channel." Mississippi State AD Scott Stricklin: "We need to announce as many programming events as soon as possible. I think that helps every fan base to get focused, if you will, if you know there's a game I'm going to miss if I don't have the SEC Network" (AL.com, 3/11).
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