SEC Network Could Launch In Around 65.7 Million Homes If Charter Deal Gets Done
A Charter Communications spokesperson yesterday said that the company is "nearing a distribution deal with ESPN to deliver the SEC Network when the channel begins airing" Aug. 14, according to Jason Morton of the TUSCALOOSA NEWS. With Charter’s 5.7 million customers, SEC Network "will launch in about 65.7 million households." The only remaining large TV provider "that hasn’t signed on to carry the SEC Network is DirecTV." However, a DirecTV spokesperson has said that the company "is nearing an agreement" (TUSCALOOSA NEWS, 7/31). In Alabama, James Crepea notes Charter is a "major provider" in the state, including the Montgomery and Birmingham markets. Birmingham has been ESPN/ABC's top TV market "for college football for 13 straight years," with last season being the best figure on record for the market (MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, 7/31).
JUST IN TIME: ESPN Senior VP/College Networks Programming Justin Connolly said, "We have some real momentum as we move closer to launch. Things are really starting to heat up." He added, “We’re coming into this with significant distribution at this stage. We have the top three cable operators and leading satellite and telco distributors and are in conversations with everybody else." Connolly said that SEC Net’s affiliate goals are "aimed toward 'the benchmark' of having the top level of penetration within the conference footprint and the second-level out of market." Connolly: “We seem to be getting that mix.” He said there is a difference in “the carriage we have in Alabama, than in Oregon.” MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted those receiving the net "will witness a three-hour wraparound welcome party," starting at 6:00pm ET on Aug. 14. Programming will "emanate from Charlotte with cutaways to campus locations." Connolly: "We want to give viewers a flavor for what the network will be about, and for those who don’t know, show them some of the reasons why the SEC is different." The net’s early days also will "see previews of each of the teams from the nation’s preeminent collegiate pigskin circuit, and encores of 67 classic games from its past" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 7/30).