First the Big Ten launched Big Ten Network with Fox Cable Network. Next came the Mountain West with Mountain West Network partnering with CBS College Sports and Comcast. Now the Southeastern Conference is joining the ranks of a college sports conference having a TV network by launching SEC Network in partnership with ESPN. Unlike the BTN and MWN, the SEC Network will be syndicated to local affiliates across the country.
The new network will replace Raycom Sports and will reach 54 million households through syndication to local affiliates, like WWL-TV in New Orleans and WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge as well out-of-conference states like Texas and Arizona.
The new network will carry both men’s and women’s basketball as well as men’s football. In some markets (mainly outside the SEC area), viewers will only be able to see men’s football.
According to a press release, “The SEC Network will feature an SEC football Game of the Week regionally for 13 consecutive Saturdays, beginning Sept. 5. Those telecasts will kick off at noon ET/11 a.m. CT with the live SEC Studio show, followed by the matchup, generally determined 12 to six days in advance. The new kickoff time for the Game of the Week will be 12:21 p.m. ET.”
Continuing, “The regular-season SEC men’s basketball package on the SEC Network beginning in January will consist of Wednesday and Saturday games, including doubleheaders. The SEC Network will also offer regional coverage of multiple rounds from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament as well as SEC women’s basketball games on Sundays, also beginning in January.”
Going the local affiliate route is better than having a cable network as you don’t have to deal with cable companies not carrying your channel, getting the network on standard cable as oppose to digital cable and sport fans don’t have to guess what digital channel the network will be on (100s, 200s).
It’s unclear how this will benefit LSU as almost all of men’s football games are broadcast on ESPN and CBS. This could benefit men’s and women’s basketball as most of those games are not on TV.
However, this does not mean that SEC schools nullify current contracts with third-party networks. “LSU’s current agreement with Cox Sports Television remains in place and untouched. So, CST will continue to broadcast the same number of LSU events as it has in the past. That contract remains intact”, Kevin Wagner, director of television and media for Louisiana State University, tells ControlAltTV via e-mail.
And don’t expect the end of TigerVision. “Under the new television agreement, ESPN will allow each SEC school ONE football game each season that it will be allowed to do on pay-per-view (TigerVision)”, continued Wagner.