According to a Sports Business Daily report, cable and satellite companies in the SEC’s 11-state region will pay ESPN a $1.30 license fee. Outside SEC terrain, the fee drops to 25 cents. The fee is paid on a "monthly per-subscriber basis."
That price is more expensive than any other college conference channel like the Big Ten Network (up to $1) and Pac-12 Network, but according to the report, “ESPN could have leverage as it negotiates with cable operators, as it appears to be on the cusp of landing a deal” with Dish Network – the country’s third-largest distributor.
Dish Network will carry the SEC Network from its launch in August, the report says, but a deal has not yet been completed. Dish Network’s “national reach and roughly 14 million subscribers” would be a wide reach for the new network.
ESPN is looking to work out deals with Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two biggest cable operators in SEC country, and is “using its schedule to apply pressure” against those operators. The SEC Network’s first football game is an Aug. 28 matchup between South Carolina and Texas A&M – two teams in the Time Warner market. The second game is between Vanderbilt and Temple – a Comcast market.
The report states that ESPN executives are confident that the SEC Network will get carriage, and ESPN President John Skipper has said he expects the network to reach “distribution on par with ESPNU, which is in nearly 75 million homes.”
With the level of devotion of the fan bases in the SEC and the quality of the games, there’s no reason to believe the network won’t take off, especially in the SEC states.
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