The Southeastern Conference and ESPN have signed a 20-year agreement through 2034 to create and operate a multiplatform network, which will launch in August 2014, it was announced today by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN President John Skipper. The new network and its accompanying digital platform will air SEC content 24/7 including more than 1,000 events in its first year.
The network will televise approximately 45 SEC football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games, and events from across the SEC's 21 sports annually. Programming will also include studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage. Hundreds of additional live events from various sports will be offered exclusively on the digital platform. The network and its digital extensions will connect with each SEC institution and create opportunities for each school to produce and develop content.
"The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms," stated Slive. "We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league. The agreement for a network streamlines and completes an overall media rights package that will continue the SEC's leadership for the foreseeable future."
Each weekend throughout the season, the new network will air multiple top-tier matchups from the strongest conference in college football. Since 2006, the SEC has claimed seven consecutive football national championships. In 2011-12, SEC teams won eight national championships: football (Alabama), men's basketball (Kentucky), gymnastics (Alabama), men's indoor track and field (Florida), women's tennis (Florida), women's golf (Alabama), men's outdoor track and field (Florida), and softball (Alabama). Since 1990, the SEC has won 149 national team championships for an average of more than six per year.
Skipper said, "The SEC is unmatched in its success on the field and its popularity with fans nationwide. The new network's top-quality SEC matchups across a range of sports will serve all sports enthusiasts including the most passionate, die-hard SEC fans. Also, it will serve the needs of our multichannel distributors and advertisers by providing extremely attractive programming options across all platforms."
As part of the agreement, ESPN will now oversee the SEC's official Corporate Sponsor Program. In addition, ESPN and the SEC also agreed to extend their existing media rights agreement through 2034. ESPN has televised the SEC since 1982. ESPN's existing networks present more than 1,600 hours of SEC action each year. The new network will focus exclusively on the SEC and add another outlet to deliver sports fans more SEC content than ever.
AT&T U-verse® has been secured as the network's first national distributor. AT&T U-verse is the fastest growing TV provider in the U.S. and their subscribers will have access to an unprecedented amount of SEC content across all platforms. Subscribers receiving the live linear network via a multichannel subscription will also have access to the network on PCs, tablets, smartphones and select gaming devices like Xbox. Additional games and coverage will be available through an authenticated digital offering. Fans looking to learn more about how to get the SEC Network can visit GetSECNetwork.com for more information.
"We are pleased to be involved with the SEC and ESPN at the very beginning of this great alliance," said Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, AT&T. "As the fastest growing and most advanced pay TV service, we want to bring our customers the highest value and most compelling product that we possibly can. Access to the SEC Network, across multiple platforms, will only increase the demand for U-verse."
ESPN's Justin Connolly, formerly senior vice president, ESPN affiliate sales and marketing, will oversee the network's day-to-day operations. The network will originate from ESPN's Charlotte, N.C., offices with additional staff located at the company's Bristol, Conn., headquarters. Staff announcements and additional details will be made in the coming months.
About the Southeastern Conference (SEC)
The Southeastern Conference was formed in 1932 and consists of 14 member institutions: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt. The league currently sanctions championship play in nine men's sports and 12 women's sports. Its headquarters has been located in Birmingham, Ala., since 1948. For more on the conference, visit www.SECDigitalNetwork.com
ESPN, Inc., is the world's leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of eight U.S. 24-hour television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 3D and Longhorn Network) and five HD simulcast services (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes). Other businesses include ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (35 networks, syndication, radio, digital), ESPN Radio (broadcast, satellite, digital, a growing category led by ScoreCenter), ESPN.com (plus a variety of sport-, college-, and market-specific sites), ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises and espnW. Multi-screen offerings include WatchESPN (access to several ESPN networks online and via an app), ESPN3 (live multi-screen network available online, on the go and via Xbox LIVE) and ESPN Mobile (mobile Web, mobile TV and video, apps, alerts and messaging). Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
GET SEC NETWORK
GENERAL / STRUCTURAL
1.When will the SEC Network launch?
The Network will launch in August 2014.
2.What will the Network be called?
The Network will be called the "SEC Network." The formal name is the "SEC ESPN Network."
3.How is this different than other conference or single-school networks?
This collaboration between the SEC and ESPN will bring together unparalleled content from one of the most competitive conferences in the country with the highest quality, most innovative production partner in the sports industry.
4.Will the Network look similar to ESPN channels?
The Network will have the highest quality production value and a look and feel consistent with ESPN's other networks.
5.Where will the Network be located?
The production home will be in Charlotte, N.C. This location will provide for efficient use of ESPN's existing production facility in Charlotte and it will have support from all of ESPN's resources in Bristol, Conn.
6.Why is Charlotte the Network's home especially since there are no SEC teams in N.C.?
ESPN already have a state-of-the-art facility in Charlotte that is easily accessible from across the SEC footprint.
7.Will each campus (or the SEC Offices) have upgraded television facilities?
Each campus is being assessed for its capabilities and level of content integration from each of the school campuses. We anticipate some level of connection and integration with each institution's facilities so we can produce and deliver content in an efficient manner.
8.How many people will work for the SEC Network?
We anticipate more than 100 full-time staff for the Network across ESPN.
PROGRAMMING & CONTENT
9.Will the SEC Network be 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
The SEC Network will have 24/7 programming; it's a dedicated channel for all things SEC.
10.What kind of shows will I see on the SEC Network?
At the outset, the Network will offer SEC sports and sports-related studio programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than 1,000 live events will be available in the first full year across the television Network and its digital extensions. This will include approximately 45 football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games and events from across all 21 SEC-sponsored sports.
11.How will the SEC Network enhance the SEC fan experience?
More than 1,000 live events will be available. The SEC Network will provide more than 450 live games each year. An additional 550 games will be distributed digitally. The Network will bring football, basketball, baseball, and all SEC campus sports to SEC fans. These outlets will provide more in-depth content to fans across the country than ever before. Fans will be able to access content on a range of devices. Also, there will be programming dedicated to news and analysis surrounding the events.
12.How many football games will be aired on the Network?
The Network will televise approximately 45 football games per season.
13.How many basketball games? Baseball? Women's sports? Olympic?
At least 450 events will be televised on the Network each year. Of the 450 events, there will be more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games and 250 Olympic sports on the Network. More than 550 additional sporting events will be available on our digital platforms. The digital platform will include an outlet, similar to ESPN3, for the other 550 games and a live linear stream of the television network. This content will be available to Network subscribers across a range of devices.
14.Will each school have a block of time to program as they see fit?
This is a conference-wide network. The goal is to provide equitable exposure for each of the SEC member institutions. The Network will achieve this goal without each school having its own block of time to program.
15.Will the Network show breaking news or investigative pieces about the conference similar to ESPN?
The Network will cover and report on sports news and information in an objective manner, but the basic premise is the Network will represent the conference and its member institutions. The Network has created a Content Board which has equal representation from the SEC and ESPN. The Board will work collaboratively on the programming and presentation. The Network, along with its digital extensions, will serve SEC sports fans and sports fans more broadly.
16.Will there be academic programming?
We have 16 months between now and the launch. We will continue to build out the full scope of the Network which will include content beyond live events. The Content Board will continue to build out the programming schedule for the Network and its digital extensions.
17.What access and programming is each school obligated to provide to the SEC Network?
Outside of the rights in the existing CBS and ESPN agreements, each school provides the rights and access to all other live events for the SEC Network.
18.Will the SEC Network air high school football games?
19.Will the SEC Network be able to re-air games shown on other ESPN networks? CBS?
20.Will the conference staff be on air or have any regular shows?
21.Will the SEC Network air bowl games? SEC Conference Championships?
There are no current plans to air bowl games on the Network. The Network will televise the SEC Championships for all sports other than football.
22.Will there be fewer games available to me now that there is a Network?
The Network will provide more than 1,000 live events per year for SEC fans and sports fans across the country. These games will also be available online on a range of devices to allow for widespread access that is not currently available.
23.Will the Network include new personalities or use existing ESPN personalities for the games and studio shows?
A mix of both existing ESPN personnel and new on-air staff will be present on the Network.
DISTRIBUTION / AVAILABILITY/ AD SALES
24.How can I get the SEC Network in time for the August 2014 launch?
An agreement is already in place with AT&T U-verse to distribute the Network. ESPN is working hard to ensure that the Network will be available via cable, satellite and telco distributors (such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Cox and Verizon FiOS). ESPN will continue negotiating with the other distributors in the coming months. Your cable, satellite, or telco provider makes programming decisions based on customer requests. As a fan of the Southeastern Conference, please support the SEC Network by calling your cable, satellite or telco provider and requesting the SEC Network.
25.Are there currently any carriage agreements?
Yes. An agreement is already done with AT&T U-verse, the fastest growing multi-channel distributor in the country.
26.How do I get the digital part of the Network?
Provided you are a customer who receives the Network from your cable, satellite or telco provider, you can contact that provider and get a username and password which will allow you to access the content on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox.
27.What is the best way for fans and alumni who want to make sure their cable company carries the Network?
Please visit www.GetSECNetwork.com to show your interest in the Network and provide some general contact information.
28.What's the expected reach of the Network outside the SEC footprint and on what level of service will distributors carry the Network (Expanded basic? Tier?)
The Network will have strong appeal and interest beyond the 11-state SEC footprint. While this is all subject to negotiation, carriage will be sought on broadly distributed packages.
29.Will I be able to watch the Network on my mobile phone or similar device?
Yes. The SEC Network will be available on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox to fans who receive their video subscription through an affiliated provider. The aim is to make this content available to fans anytime, anywhere, similar to how the WatchESPN application works today.
30.Will I be able to watch the Network on a device other than my TV (online? tablet)
Provided you are a subscriber of an affiliated provider (a cable, satellite or telco partner), you will be able to access the content with your existing login credentials, which will allow you to access the content on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other devices like Xbox.
31.How will you decide what games to televise early in the Network's existence?
The SEC has great depth in all major sports so the Network will have top-tier matchups each week to serve viewers and those distributors that choose to carry the network.
32.Can I pay to subscribe to the network online, Pay-Per-View or via ESPN3 if I can't get it on TV?
No. The games will be exclusive to the Network and its digital extensions. However, once a subscriber has access to the Network via an affiliated provider, that subscriber will have access to the content on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox. The aim is to make this content available to fans anytime, anywhere.
33.How will this impact my cable bill?
ESPN negotiates for license fee payments from its distributors and has no control over retail pricing. Retail prices are determined by each distributor.
34.Will all SEC campuses carry the network?
Campuses served by an affiliated provider will have access to the Network.
35.I live in [state outside SEC footprint]. Are you working to make sure we are able to see the Network too?
Yes. Our interest is in delivering this content in broadly distributed packages across the country.
36.Right now, I see all my favorite team's games online at the [SEC school athletics] site. Will I still be able to see all those games?
The Network is for media rights to all sports across our 14 member institutions. Any games produced by the schools will have an outlet, either the SEC Network or its digital extensions, where fans can watch.
37.Who will sell sponsorship for the Network?
ESPN will sell advertising and sponsorship on behalf of the Network. ESPN will also represent the SEC's Corporate Sponsor Program.
38.Where can I apply for a job at SEC Network?
You can apply online at ESPNcareers.com. Job openings for the SEC Network positions will be posted in late Spring 2014.
39.Will the Network have an internship program?
ESPN has a SEC internship program already in place. The Network will source candidates from the existing process and pool. Information about where to apply is forthcoming.
40.How will money from the Network be used on campuses?
Each member institution has control and discretion on how they use any proceeds from their media rights.