A bargain at twice the price

Mike Slive’s had a pretty good week.  The NCAA is in the process of capitulating to the power conferences on governance.  And Comcast is taking on the SEC Network.

SEC Network landed its biggest fish Friday, announcing a long-term carriage deal with the country’s biggest distributor. Comcast will carry the channel at its Aug. 14 launch on its expanded basic tier within SEC territory and digital basic outside of it. Sources say the channel’s rate card is at $1.40 per subscriber per month within the SEC’s 11-state footprint and $0.25 per month outside of it.

That ain’t exactly chump change.  It’s likely that DirecTV isn’t far behind, either.  All in all, it sounds like the SEC is having a smoother rollout of its broadcast operation than either the Big Ten or the Pac-12 had.  And that may be the result of a deliberate tactical decision Slive and the presidents made.  They don’t own the SEC Network outright, as the Pac-12 owns its.  Nor are they the controlling end of a partnership like the Big Ten is. Instead, the conference has elected to maintain the role of content provider and leave production in the hands of ESPN.

What’s gained by that?  A shitload of leverage.

The Comcast deal also includes TV Everywhere rights, allowing for live streaming of the channel on Xfinity TV Go and WatchESPN (John Ourand, Staff Writer). FOXSPORTS.com’s Clay Travis noted news that DirecTV is close to a deal is “square with the private comments of SEC and ESPN executives, who are confident that a deal is near as well.” DirecTV’s negotiations with SEC Network “are part of a larger negotiation with the other ESPN networks.”

In other words, if you want to carry ESPN – and if you’re a distributor, that’s not really a choice – you’d best resign yourself to finding a niche in your product line for the SEC Network.  The good thing is that if you play ball, ESPN has plenty of extra sweeteners to toss in the pot for you.  And that’s basically what’s happening.

With the Comcast deal in place, an agreement with DirecTV “would mean that every major cable and satellite company — excluding Time Warner, which has remained fairly quiet so far — would carry the SEC Network.” It also would allow ESPN and the SEC to “hit their goal of roughly 75 million cable and satellite subscribers at launch.”

That’s an easier sell with ESPN on your side than without.  (Note that “DirecTV, which has more than 20 million subscribers, carries the Big Ten Network but not the Pac 12 Network.”)

The SEC took a more conservative approach to establishing its broadcast arm than its predecessors.  And while it may be hard to say whether that’s a decision it’ll come to regret down the road if having more control equals greater profitability, at present it’s probably more valuable to get the sign ups done as smoothly as possible.

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18 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

18 responses to “A bargain at twice the price

  1. Sanford222view

    What article is the link supposed to go to ? Links to Twitter feed of your previous post instead.

  2. Dog in Fla

    “All in all, it sounds like the SEC is having a smoother rollout of its broadcast operation than either the Big Ten or the Pac-12 had.”

    Which should make Slive feel Like A Rolling Sex Machine

  3. Mudcats Impala...

    From what I’ve read the B10Network is currently in 52 million homes after 7 years on the air… Even if DTV & TWC do not come on board before Aug. 14th. the SEC Network will debut the new channel in 46 million homes…

    • Macallanlover

      I don’t care much for the SEC network plans but the necessity of not having access to SEC football games make me take sides and help them. I have Direct TV and will drop them by mid August if they don’t get this done before then.

      The merger between Direct and AT&T make me think it will happen. But I don’t see anything I want other than that small selection of football games. The selection of announcers/analysts shows how poorly the SEC is run but the network will succeed despite that. I will call Direct by the end of the month if something isn’t announced before then.

  4. tess

    Charter Cable here in Athens still doesn’t have it lined up. Cable is in my husband’s name (only one of us is fit to deal with customer service people, and it has never been me), and he’s contacted them several times. They are always “in negotiations.”

    Maybe the Comcast announcement will move Charter in line, otherwise, we need to unbundle our internet and call Dish network, and time is getting short. I prefer cable to satellite, but life has priorities.

  5. 69Dawg

    Now that Comcast has joined the rest of the cable services will too. Directv has to get on board or Dish will destroy them in the Southeast.

  6. Time Warner needs to get this done in North Carolina, or I will be moving to DISH

  7. Sanford222view

    Disney/ESPN won’t let providers say anything other than, “we are in negotiations ” until a deal is done. Many providers use a co-op to negotiate the programming deals called the NCTC. The current Disney/ESPN contract for NCTC members expires on 7/31 and the new agreement will include the SEC Network which should be done before the end of the month. The agreement requires SECN be launched on 8/14 and will cover most of the smaller Cable TV providers. I am not sure whether Charter deals direct on this or uses the NCTC. I know Time Warner does direct deals.

    I can let you know that even if your provider only tells you they are in negotiations they are likely already preparing from a technical standpoint for the launch. ESPN is already allowing providers to test the channel signal to make sure they are ready for the 8/14 launch once their agreement is done.

  8. DawgPhan

    Why do I care about the SEC Network right now. Arent all the big SEC games going to be on ESPN/CBS/ABC ? Am I going to miss the coaches show or something?

    • I’ll let you know how the TAMU-SC game turns out. ;)

      • DawgPhan

        We’re talking about thursday night football games? c’mon man. thursday night football?

        Just kidding..obviously a solid game to kick off the season.

        I have comcast so no worries..I guess I can worry about my bill going up, and thanking my non-football neighbors for footing the bill.

    • FCDore

      Auburn-Arkansas is also on the SEC Network in Week 1, along with Utah State’s likely, not-considered-an-upset-in-49-states win over UT. As the season progresses and you get into more conference-only matchups, the fact that the SEC Network will have a triple-header every Saturday suggests that there will be some decent games by default. Consider October 4; three of these games will have to be on the SEC Network:
      Alabama – Ole Miss
      Auburn – LSU
      Tennessee – Florida
      Georgia – Vanderbilt
      South Carolina – Kentucky
      Texas A&M – Mississippi State