RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
The long-awaited announcement of the Southeastern Conference network is days away. The SEC says that it will hold a news conference with ESPN executives Tuesday in Atlanta. The network is to be launched in a partnership between the SEC and ESPN.
Sports Business Journal reported Friday that the conference and the network would detail plans Tuesday to have the SEC cable channel up and running by August 2014. A person familiar with the announcement confirmed that to the AP on condition of anonymity because no details of the news conference had been made official. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN President John Skipper will be among those in attendance. Slive said earlier this year he expected an announcement on the network by the middle of April.
Sports Business Journal reported the SEC recently completed buying back some low-level TV rights from IMG College, Learfield Sports and CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, and that was the last step toward moving forward with ESPN. ESPN, which already has a long-term deal with the SEC, will own the rights for all SEC sports, except for the one-game per week deal the conference has with CBS, according to SBJ.
The network will have some similarities with the Big Ten and Pac-12 networks. The Big Ten Network has been on the air since 2007 and has turned into a cash cow for the conference after a rocky start. The Pac-12 Network launched last year and is still dealing with distribution issues that the Big Ten faced when its network started.
The SEC is hoping the conference’s popularity, large and loyal fanbase, and the partnership with ESPN will be a recipe for better distribution right from the start.