Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN extended its broadcast rights agreement with the Southeastern Conference for all sports to 2034, what the network said is the longest such contract in sports.
The conference and network, during a news conference in Atlanta, also announced the formation of the SEC Network, which will go on the air in August 2014.
Terms weren’t disclosed, but here is a pretty in-depth Q and A posted today on the conference’s website:
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.