ESPN and the SEC announced their 20-year SEC Network deal, which will provide you “an unparalleled fan experience of top SEC content.” We’re hoping “SECSPN” will catch on. Cutting through the requisite buzzwords and BS, here’s a simple breakdown.
What does this mean for the SEC? “Unprecedented revenue.” At least until the Big Ten renegotiates its outdated first-tier rights deal in 2017. The conference took the “large guaranteed payout from ESPN” option instead of the “ownership option.” Given the unstable cable climate, limiting their liability may prove shrewd.
What does this mean for you, college sports fan? First, a realization that everything you want to watch on this network you already had access to. Then, a protracted negotiation process in which both ESPN and your television provider leverage you and claim to be acting for your best interest. (insert dismissive wanking motion here) Then, you have a dollar added to your cable bill. Then, when your sports viewing is no longer subsidized by every household in America, a substantial but not prohibitive monthly fee as part of an ESPN package.
What does this change? The SEC is now in the television business. Teams are no longer scheduling games. They are producing inventory for a network. ESPN will have a lot of input. A nine-game conference schedule should go through over head coach opposition. We may also see an end to the front-loading. Every team taking its SEC-iesta against the Southern Conference the penultimate weekend won’t fly. The conference may also put more effort into basketball. Better non-conference schedules. Teams other than Florida and Kentucky caring. That sort of thing.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]