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SEC Network Set To Launch in 2014

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SEC commissioner Mike Slive is all smiles these days after finding an avenue to increase revenue by millions annually. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive is all smiles these days after finding an avenue to increase revenue by millions annually. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

The Southeastern Conference officially has its own network, which will be up and running August 2014.

The conference made an announcement Thursday that it will partner with ESPN as the two entities signed a 20-year agreement to create and operate a multi-platform network.

The network will televise approximately 45 SEC football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games, and events from across the SEC’s 21 sports annually. Programming will also include studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage. Hundreds of additional live events from various sports will be offered exclusively on the digital platform. The network and its digital extensions will connect with each SEC institution and create opportunities for each school to produce and develop content.

It's a move that had been rumored for a long time and was finally made official.

“We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. "The agreement for a network streamlines and completes an overall media rights package that will continue the SEC’s leadership for the foreseeable future.”

THE OTHER NETWORKS

The Big Ten and Pac-12 Networks are already in play, but both struggled to initially get off the ground.

The SEC Network, however, won't have the struggles the other two leagues did since AT&T U-verse has been secured as the network's first national distributor, something neither network had in the beginning.

With the network still 14 months away from launching, there's no doubt a few other distributors will also get in on the action. Soon, folks with Comcast, DirecTV and the Dish Network will likely see agreements made as well.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE FANS

This seems to be a win-win as fans will be able to watch their favorite team, even if they live a few states away.

Of course, CBS will still get the first pick each week, but after that, it's anyone's guess as to which network (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or SEC Network) that your favorite team will be playing on each week.

What this also means is that television subscriber fees are about to go up as well. While we still wait on a la carte selections from television providers, every household will be paying for the network, regardless of if they watch it or not.

ESPN currently charges providers $5 per subscriber, if that provider is carrying the network.

This demand is evident from the fact that other sports networks such as Fox Sports are also able to charge substantially higher fee per subscriber as compared to the regular cable networks such as Nickelodeon, MTV, TNT, TBS and The Disney Channel. According to Nielsen, after staying stable for a while, the proportion of prime time audience watching sports programming has increased substantially in the past few years.

With the SEC Network, tack on a few more bucks. And just like all providers, the consumer inherits that cost. The SEC Network is coming with a price. If your TV bill isn't more than $100 a month, it most certainly will be once this deal is implemented.

If you're OK with paying a little more on your bill to get more SEC action, then you'll have no qualms about the deal.

However, for those who aren't big college sports fans, this is something that raises their blood pressure, as they've seen their cable bills rise dramatically during the last five years.