Campus Corner

The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

ESPN reaches deal with Comcast for SEC Network

07/18/2014 11:20 AM

07/18/2014 9:21 PM

Comcast and ESPN announced an agreement Friday for distribution of the SEC Network.

The network, which launches Aug. 14 and will carry at least 45 football games this season, already had reached agreements with other cable and satellite providers, including Dish Network, Cox Communications and AT&T U-Verse.

The addition of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, means the SEC Network will be available in 46 million households, with other negotiations continuing.

Comcast is the primary cable TV provider throughout much of SEC country, including most of Georgia, Florida and Tennessee and parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana as well as Little Rock, Ark., and Houston.

That leaves Time Warner Cable and DirecTV as the only major cable and satellite providers without an agreement for SEC Network carriage. Comcast has proposed acquiring Time Warner for $45 billion, but that deal must still be approved by regulators.

The Star previously reported that a source familiar with the negotiations said a deal between the SEC Network and Time Warner Cable is “likely” before the launch date.

Time Warner Cable also is a major provider in other key SEC markets, including South Carolina and parts of Texas.

DirecTV issued a release last week calling discussions “productive,” and spoke of the “unique bond between SEC teams and the communities they represent, many of which lack professional teams.”

ESPN, which owns the SEC Network, is hoping to charge $1.40 per subscriber per month in the 11 states that have an SEC team and 25 cents outside the conference’s footprint, according to Sports Business Daily.

The Big Ten Network, by comparison, has a $1 subscriber fee and the Pac-12 charges 80 cents per subscriber inside their conference footprints.

Financially, the network could double revenue distributions from the SEC to member schools, which was $21 million per school last year. Some revenue projections are even higher.

The SEC Network will be available in Missouri on Comcast’s Digital Starter package. In states without an SEC school, it will appear on the Digital Preferred package, a more expensive tier, according to John Demming, Comcast’s executive director of corporate and financial communications.

The SEC Network will air 24 hours a day and plans to broadcast more than 100 men’s and 60 women’s basketball games and 75 baseball games along with its football schedule along with studio shows and documentaries.

Football on the network debuts with an Aug. 28 doubleheader, featuring Texas A&M at South Carolina and Vanderbilt at Temple. The first Saturday tripleheader two days later will be highlighted by Arkansas at Auburn.

Missouri’s debut on the SEC Network is Sept. 13 when Central Florida visits Columbia and, by the end of the season’s first month, the network will have broadcast a game from every SEC football stadium.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

OTHER NEWS

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione will chair the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee for the 2015-16 school year.

The NCAA said Friday that Castiglione will be vice chair this year. He will work with Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes, who begins his term as chair Sept. 1.

The University of Connecticut will pay nearly $1.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by five women who claimed the school responded to their sexual assault complaints with indifference, the two sides announced Friday.

The bulk of the settlement, $900,000, will go to Silvana Moccia, a former UConn hockey player who joined the Title IX lawsuit last December, a month after it was originally filed by four other women. She alleged she was kicked off the team after reporting she had been raped by a male hockey player in August 2011.

The other four women will receive payments ranging from $25,000 to $125,000.

The school, which has repeatedly defended its policies for responding to sexual assault complaints, did not admit any wrongdoing.

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