|Launched||August 14, 2014|
|Owned by||ESPN Inc.|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Sister channel(s)||SEC TV, ESPNU|
The SEC Network (also known as the SEC ESPN Network) is an upcoming cable college sports network dedicated to coverage of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), scheduled to launch on August 14, 2014. The network will be operated by ESPN as part of a 20-year partnership, and feature coverage of SEC sports, along with news/analysis programs and other content focusing on the SEC's member schools. The network's coverage will also succeed an identically-named syndication package which was produced by ESPN's regional arm, ESPN Plus.
On May 2, 2013, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN president John Skipper formally announced that as part of a long-term, 20-year agreement lasting through 2034, ESPN would launch the SEC Network, a network devoted to the conference and an accompanying digital platform, in August 2014. The network will be based out of ESPNU's facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina (not an SEC market itself, but close in proximity to them), and will aim to provide "unparalleled content from one of the most competitive conferences in the country with the highest quality, most innovative production partner in the sports industry." The network will join the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Network as television networks devoted entirely to a single college athletics conference.
During the announcement of the SEC's football schedule for the 2014 season, Mike Slive officially announced that the SEC Network would launch on August 14, 2014. Its first live regular season football games will air on August 28, 2014, between Texas A&M and South Carolina, and Temple and Vanderbilt.
SEC Network will air events across the 21 sports that the conference sponsors; within its first year, the network and its digital outlets plan to broadcast at least 1000 live events, with at least 450 on television. Yearly, the network will broadcast approximately 45 football games, 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, and 75 baseball games. For football, SEC Network plans to air three Saturday games per week in early, afternoon, and evening windows. While CBS will maintain its first pick of games for its 3:30 p.m. ET telecast, it will no longer have an exclusive broadcast window for SEC football games—allowing ESPN's outlets and SEC Network to air games alongside CBS.
Original content on SEC Network will include studio and analysis programs, programs produced by the SEC's member institutions, along with encore presentations of SEC events. In May 2013, Paul Finebaum signed with ESPN to host a daily radio show based out of Charlotte, which will be simulcast by SEC Network.
On December 6, 2013, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced that SEC Network will broadcast a two-hour college football pre-game show known as SEC Nation, which will be a travelling show similar to ESPN's own College GameDay. It will be hosted by ESPN commentator Joe Tessitore, and will also feature analysis from Paul Finebaum. On December 30, 2013, ESPN announced that former Denver Broncos and New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow had signed a multi-year deal with ESPN to serve as a college football analyst, and will also make appearances on SEC Nation.
AT&T U-verse was announced as the first television provider to agree to carry SEC Network; as of January 2014, it is still the only provider who has publicly announced a deal to carry the network. In January 2014, Sports Business Journal reported that ESPN was seeking a carriage rate of $1.30 per-subscriber per-month in SEC markets, and $0.25 in non-SEC markets; in comparison, Big Ten Network charges around $1.00 per subscriber in Big Ten markets. It was also noted that SEC Network's opening doubleheader may have been intended to put pressure on Comcast and Time Warner Cable to pick up SEC Network, as they predominantly involve teams located within their service areas.
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- Donohue, Steve (May 2, 2013). "ESPN to use AT&T U-verse deal to demand expanded basic slot for SEC network". FierceCable. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- "SEC Network’s cost will top that of other college nets". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 16 January 2014.