SEC's new network with ESPN to debut in 2014
The Southeastern Conference and ESPN on Thursday announced a 20-year agreement to operate a SEC network that is scheduled to debut in August, 2014.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said the SEC network will produce 1,000 live events each year, including 450 televised on the network and 550 distributed digitally. Slive says the network will carry approximately 45 SEC football games each year "and a depth of content across all sports."
No financial terms were released for the deal, which continues through 2034.
ESPN senior vice president Justin Connolly said AT&T Inc.'s U-Verse has signed on as the network's first distributor. He said talks are just beginning with other possible cable partners.
Connolly said the deal also gives ESPN rights to oversee the league's corporate partner program. In addition, ESPN will manage and run all of the SEC's digital platforms.
The announcement came at a news conference attended by Slive, ESPN President John Skipper, 32 SEC coaches and each of the league's 14 athletic directors. The emphasis was this is to be a national network.
"We believe this conference has national appeal," Skipper said. "This is a national network. This is not a regional network. We understand that in the 11-state footprint is where the most passionate fans are, but there are a lot of SEC fans in California and Texas and New York and Connecticut and Virginia and Nebraska."
Slive would not discuss details of the ownership arrangement with the SEC and ESPN.
"We would not have done this if we did not believe it would be in the long-term benefit of the league, both in terms of distribution and in terms of revenue," Slive said. “We're both happy.”