Already the most competitive and visible conference in college sports, the SEC will debut its brand-new television network, in partnership with ESPN, Thursday. Last year alone the SEC pulled in a record $309.6 million in revenue from bowl games and its football championship game, but more importantly from televised football and basketball games. Now with most of the major cable and satellite providers carrying the SEC Network ahead of its launch, the conference could experience a major jump in revenue in the foreseeable future.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the SEC Network promises to air 1,000 live events this season, including 40 events digitally for each of the 14 universities in the conference, the AP reports. Many of the schools constructed new state-of-the-art studios so they could provide live interviews with players and coaches and relay them back to the network. Tennessee spent $10 million to build a stadium in the first floor of its Brenda Lawson Atheltic Center, and Auburn paid $5 million for two new control rooms, and hired nine people to run its video department, according to the AP.
The SEC isn’t the first major college conference to start its own TV network, with the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big-12 and ACC already on the air. But they’ve already surpassed those conferences when it comes to carrier fees. Distributors like Comcast, Direct-TV and Time Warner, will pay $1.30 per subscriber to ESPN in order to carry the SEC Network in one of the 11 states that have an SEC school, Sports Business Daily reported in January. That’s about 40 percent higher than the $1 fee the Big Ten charges cable and satellite operators. For the other 39 states in the country, the carrier fee drops significantly to $0.25 per subscriber.
All told, Motley Fool estimates that ESPN and the SEC could rake in as much as $830 million in revenue this season on carrier fees alone. How that money is divided between the two is unknown, but it could be a 50-50 split.
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While there are plans for nearly every sport at each school to receive air time either digitally or on television, football and basketball will be the most featured events on the SEC Network. According to the network’s official site, it will air 45 football games (the first coming Aug. 28 with South Carolina hosting Texas A&M), and 100 men’s basketball games.
Similar to ESPN’s College Game Day, SEC Nation will be the prime hub for the network’s college football coverage. Airing on Saturday’s from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern Time, the program will be hosted by Joe Tessitore, with former Florida star and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, along with Paul Finebaum and Marcus Spears also at the desk. Ever popular across the country, Tebow’s inclusion in the network should provide a huge boost to ratings throughout the season, though he is still hoping to make an NFL roster in the near-future. Finebaum will also host a self-titled daily, four-hour radio show.
For some of the finer details, and how you can watch the SEC Network, lets answer a few quick questions.
Who carries the SEC Network?
The SEC Network is available on the biggest providers like Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Cox Cable, as well as AT&T’s U-verse, Dish Network, Bright House Networks, Cable One and Google Fiber.
However Verizon Fios, Cablevision and Mediacom have all held out, and currently do not have provider agreements with the SEC Network.
When does the SEC Network first air?
The network hits the airwaves on Thursday night at 6 p.m. EST.
What channel is the SEC Network?
Depending on what your channel lineup is (and they vary from area to area around the country) in Georgia, for example, you can find the network on Comcast channel 740 and 1739 (HD), Direct TV on 611, Time Warner on 516, 517, or 518 for standard, and 79, 80, or 417 for HD.
A national provider, Dish Network is expected to carry the network on channel 404 for subscribers who have its Hopper set-top box, but for those who have different equipment it could vary between channels 408, 596 and 597. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Comcast, DirecTV and DISH will be the same. AT&T U-verse will carry the network on channels 607 for standard def and 1607 for high-def. Charter Comm will devote channels 30 and 318 to standard def and 811 to high-def.
The best way to find out, however, is to reach out to your provider.