SEC issues: The conference’s TV future

Third in a series of previews by Josh Kendall on the key issues at next week’s SEC meetings in Destin, Fla.

jkendall@thestate.comMay 22, 2013 

THE ISSUE

Earlier this month, the conference announced the creation of the SEC Network, which will begin broadcasting conference sports 24 hours a day in August 2014. There’s no way to know how much revenue the network will generate until all the distribution deals are reached, but it will be a lot.

Conference commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN president John Skipper have declined to disclose the terms of the new megadeal. The old deal was worth $150 million annually through the 2023 season. The new deal goes through 2034. The league still has its deal with CBS, which is worth $55 million annually through the 2023 season and could be reworked if the conference expands to nine conference games per season.

If league officials want to play hardball, they could ask for a bump even without adding another game, but CBSSports.com recently reported no changes to monetary value are expected. No changes have been announced since the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri, although CBS did recently give up its exclusivity window on the 3:30 p.m. game so the SEC Network can show an afternoon game.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN seems excited to have locked up the league that has won college football’s last seven national championships. “There is not another conference in America where that sense of pride and that sense of belonging is on such public display,” said ESPN senior vice president Justin Connolly, who will head the new network.

WHAT THEY’RE DOING

The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC have combined television deals worth around $250 million annually. Those conferences have reworked their deals since 2008, when the SEC announced then-record deals with ESPN and CBS. Most observers expected the SEC to get back out in front of the financial game sooner rather than later, which it appears to have done with the ESPN deal.

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