SEC fans may call the Big Ten slow, but it had a head start on what the SEC will gain in less than a month.
The SEC Network will join the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Networks as the nation’s big three college sports conference-oriented networks. With a partnership with ESPN and fueled by the SEC’s fans, the SEC Network could be the biggest of all of them.
That might not be the case when the SEC Network launches in mid-August, though. One major provider have not come to an agreement with ESPN on distribution, though it’s tough to see the holdout lasting much longer.
For those who will have the SEC Network, here’s what you can expect.
Where can I watch SEC Network?
The SEC announced Friday that Comcast will distribute the SEC Network, joining AT&T U-Verse, Cox and Dish Network as the biggest carriers. That leaves. That leaves DirecTV as the biggest remaining holdout. DirecTV is the biggest remaining holdout. ESPN senior vice president of programming Justin Connolly said from SEC Media Days that negotiations are ongoing.
“We’re confident and our confidence is based on the demand that’s out there from SEC fans,” Connolly said. “(The hold up is) long negotiations, complicated issues. A lot of times these things don’t come down until the very end.”
Update: ESPN announced in early August that DirecTV will carry the SEC Network.
Which football games will the SEC Network air?
CBS still retains the first pick of an SEC game each week, but ESPN and the SEC Network will continue to air secondary games. The SEC Network, though, ends CBS’ exclusive window in the 3:30 p.m. Eastern time slot. Sixteen games, including three conference games, are scheduled before Sept. 20. The entire season will feature 45 exclusive football games.
SEC Network: The first 16 games:
Aug. 28: Texas A&M at South Carolina
Aug. 28: Temple at Vanderbilt
Aug. 30: UT Martin at Kentucky
Aug. 30: Arkansas at Auburn
Aug. 30: Southern Miss at Mississippi State
Aug. 31: Utah State at Tennessee
Sept. 6: FAU at Alabama
Sept. 6: Arkansas State at Tennessee
Sept. 6: Eastern Michigan at Florida
Sept. 6: Nicholls State at Arkansas
Sept. 6: Lamar at Texas A&M
Sept. 6: Sam Houston State at LSU
Sept. 13: UCF at Missouri
Sept. 13: UL Lafayette at Ole Miss
Sept. 13: Kentucky at Florida
Sept. 20: Troy at Georgia
Which talking heads will be on the SEC Network?
Sports fans, especially in SEC land, will find plenty of familiar faces and voices on the SEC Network. Brent Musburger moves off the Saturday night game of the week spot on ABC to the top game on the SEC Network. Chris Fowler will take Musburger’s spot on ABC.
The other broadcast teams will be:
• Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor
• Dave Neal and Andre Ware
• Tom Hart and Matt Stinchcomb
Other studio analysts will include former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, former LSU stars Marcus Spears and Booger McFarland and veteran journalist Tony Barnhart.
The SEC Network also will televise the Birmingham-based Paul Finebaum Show and, as Connelly put it, “some of the most colorful fans in the conference.” That may be one way put the show, which showcases the SEC, and specifically the Alabama and Auburn rivalry, at its most colorful, passionate and ugly.
“We’ve had Paul on air on the radio side for a year now. You can say he’s toned it down,” Connolly said. “It’s a different role. It’s going to change a little bit, but we want Paul to be Paul and we want him to bring that passion and that audience.”
What non-game programming will the SEC Network air?
The SEC Network aims to offer a treasure trove of non-game content. For Xs and Os fans, the highlight will be “Film Room,” a program every Wednesday night featuring an SEC coach breaking down game film.
The SEC Network will continue its SEC Storied series, a documentary series that has already included features on the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, the Manning family and Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson.
The first four documentaries on the SEC Network will feature Ole Miss’ Chucky Mullins (“It’s Time”), Florida and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (“The Believer”), Auburn’s star athletes during the 80s (“Bo, Barkley and the Big Hurt”) and SEC Passion (“The Stars Aligned”)
“We’re not going to have the news infrastructure that ESPN has,” Connolly said. “We’re not going to do a lot of investigative journalism.”
How much of a cash cow is this?
In addition to the SEC’s broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS, the SEC Network has been estimated to bring $26 million to each school within a year.