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April 12, 2013

SEC Network announcement coming Tuesday

It is happening. A couple of tidbits:
  • The studios will be in Charlotte at the ESPN Regional Offices. Blutarsky thinks that has something to to with who'll wear the pants in the relationship. I think it has more to do with economics, but you cannot discount that being a possible harbinger of where the conference might look it goes expanding again.
  • XOS Digital is dead to me. Good riddance. ESPN will now handle the digital media stuff.
  • ESPN will acquire the third-tier rights to SEC football games. It remains to be seen if that means games outside of CBS/ESPN will be on ESPNs other networks or if they'll sell back access to CSS. I think the one PPV will stay, but as part of ESPN, since they already have a platform for distributing it.
  • ESPN, through the network, gets rights to pretty much all other sports.
  • They are targeting an August 2014 launch date. If it were me, I'd aim for earlier, as that gives you time to work out kinks, such as distribution issues, before football season.
Speaking of distribution issues, the fight over who carries the SECNet and on what tier will be interesting. The B1.5G Network struggled to get in homes the first year. The Pac-12 has been fighting with DirectTV (and other providers) to get on their lineups. On one hand, having a strong nationally recognized product helps. On the other, this stuff costs money. Don't be surprised to see U-Verse, Comcast and the satellite providers push to have this on a premium tier, especially outside the conference's footprint.

Of course, fans and the conference want it on basic tier. Fans for accessibility. The conference because that means more subscribers. ESPNs considerable market power will help in this regard.

TD

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