SEC Network Lands Biggest Carriage Deal to Date, Agreeing To Terms With Comcast
SEC Network landed its biggest fish Friday, announcing a long-term carriage deal with the country's biggest distributor. Comcast will carry the channel at its Aug. 14 launch on its expanded basic tier within SEC territory and digital basic outside of it. Sources say the channel's rate card is at $1.40 per subscriber per month within the SEC's 11-state footprint and $0.25 per month outside of it. The deal leaves DirecTV and Time Warner Cable as the only two major distributors without a deal, though sources said that both companies expect to have a deal in place by the channel's first football game on Aug. 28. It is unusual for so many carriage deals to be cut on a new, expensive channel four weeks before launch. The Comcast deal pushes SEC Network's distribution footprint to 46 million homes, including carriage on AT&T, Cox and Dish Network. The Comcast deal also includes TV Everywhere rights, allowing for live streaming of the channel on Xfinity TV Go and WatchESPN (John Ourand, Staff Writer
). FOXSPORTS.com's Clay Travis noted news that DirecTV is close to a deal is "square with the private comments of SEC and ESPN executives, who are confident that a deal is near as well." DirecTV's negotiations with SEC Network "are part of a larger negotiation with the other ESPN networks." With the Comcast deal in place, an agreement with DirecTV "would mean that every major cable and satellite company -- excluding Time Warner, which has remained fairly quiet so far -- would carry the SEC Network." It also would allow ESPN and the SEC to "hit their goal of roughly 75 million cable and satellite subscribers at launch." DirecTV, which has more than 20 million subscribers, carries the Big Ten Network but not the Pac 12 Network (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/17
WHAT YOU SEC IS WHAT YOU GET: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said that it is "essential that the news -- both good and bad -- is reported on the SEC Network." Slive: "We are developing a national network, and it's very important to us that it has credibility, not only with the media but with fans everywhere. Fans need to know they can rely on getting information they need to get on the SEC Network." In Nashville, David Climer writes as a means toward that end, SEC Network's "very first hire wasn't exactly a pretty face -- longtime sports radio host Paul Finebaum." Televising a talk show like Finebaum's is a contrast to BTN's approach, as when it "comes to its member schools, the Big Ten Network is all kittens and rainbows." If you "depended on the Big Ten Network for all your college football news, you would have known almost nothing about the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State," as the topic "was largely off-limits"(Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/17).