Friday, May 30, 2008

SEC to create own TV network?

A year after the Big Ten Network was launched, the Southeastern Conference is interested in creating its own television network after its current deals with CBS, ESPN and Raycom expire next spring, the AJC first reported Wednesday.

Negotiations on new deals should be in place by this fall, but the SEC wants the option to create its own network as part of the negotiations. The league has toyed with this idea for a while but now it is time to decide.

"The charge we have received from our institutions is to explore two models when it comes to the future of TV in our conference," said commissioner Mike Slive. "One is the traditional route that we have now. The second is to incorporate an SEC network that gives us a greater opportunity for exposure for all of our sports."

The Big Ten Network received criticism due to the fact that since the league did not have a deal with a major cable TV provider, only a third of the people in Big Ten markets could see the games. The Big Ten will soon sign a deal with Comcast.

The SEC won't have that problem. It will probably require "100 percent distribution from day one" to make sure that games would be available in most of the SEC markets. Imagine what would happen if an SEC fan couldn't watch their team on television.

"In the Big Ten something like that would make people mad," one TV executive told the AJC. "In the SEC there would have been bodily injury."

Point taken.

Officials from Fox Sports Net/SportSouth and CSS both told the AJC they are interested in having discussions with the SEC about carrying a conference network.

Additionally, even if an SEC network is created, CBS and ESPN would still get the first two picks for conference football games. The SEC network would take priority for the next pick to which Raycom currently owns the rights.

QUESTION: Would you guys approve of an SEC network? What downsides do you see to it? Do you think it'd be successful?

Here's my quick take: SEC fans are unhealthily obsessed with their teams. 78,200 people showed for Alabama's spring game. If Tim Tebow could run for governor of Florida, he'd win easily. Grown men wear jerseys of their favorite players and cry after losses. College students send hateful Facebook messages to opposing teams and have resorted to "poking" the star quarterback with the hope of distracting him.

My point? Of course the network is going to work. What SEC diehard would not watch it? And as long as the SEC guarantees that the games will be showed in nearly every home across the region, I don't see many significant drawbacks.

If the SEC does go ahead with the network, David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel has some compelling programming ideas.


Anonymous said...

i'm always down for a pissing contest with the big ten

Anonymous said...

Here's a potential problem, and i'll point out it probably effects Vanderbilt more than the other SEC campuses, but what rights would an SEC network hold over league games? all? how would that effect nationally televised games, particularly those we all enjoy on saturday afternoon on cbs in the winter? All major cable providers would have to pick up the channel and how would that effect my cable package? Lets think about the people in NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Fran and LA? Or any place outside of the southeast for that matter. Granted if its rolled up as a non-premium package and we all get it, we'll have great access to the games we currently settle to read about. But if it doesn't?