SEC Network still working on deals with Comcast, others

The SEC Network — an ESPN/SEC partnership that will cover SEC sports around the clock year-round — is scheduled to launch at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14.
Jul 17, 2014

HOOVER, Ala. — Less than a month from the launch of the new SEC Network, negotiations continue to get the channel carried by major cable and satellite providers such as Comcast, Charter and DirecTV, a network official said Wednesday at SEC Media Days.

The SEC Network — an ESPN/SEC partnership that will cover SEC sports around the clock year-round — is scheduled to launch at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14.

Justin Connolly, the ESPN executive who heads SEC Network, said deals currently are in place to make the new channel available in 25 million homes nationwide, including those served by Cox Communications, AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network and Google Fiber. He declined to put a number on how many homes the network expects to reach at launch.

“Four weeks is a long time in the distribution world, especially when a network of this scope is launching,” he said.

Asked about the status of negotiations with major providers such as Comcast and DirecTV, Connolly said: “We continue conversations. It’s one of those where you really don’t say it’s done or they’re on board until the contracts are signed. … When they sign a deal like Cox or Dish Network or AT&T U-Verse (did), we’ll obviously let people know. But until that moment, we don’t have a deal in place.

“I’d say we’re confident about the conversations, and our confidence is really based on the demand that is out there among SEC fans.”

He said the negotiations are complicated, “and a lot of times these things don’t come down until the very end.”

In his SEC Media Days appearance, Connolly outlined the new network’s coverage plans, including a football tripleheader each Saturday during the season and a weekly “Film Room” show in which an SEC coach will break down film of past games. Connolly said the network “has built a team that is the television production equivalent of the 1980 Georgia Bulldogs.”

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