The Southeastern Conference already dominates nationally on the football field, and now commissioner Mike Slive and his league are looking to dominate the airwaves as well.
In a move that has been in the works since the Big Ten started basically printing their own money with the launch of the Big Ten Network, the SEC will announce the launch of its own cable network in mid-April.
“Our focus for now is on our tournament and the NCAA tournament,” Slive said, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports. “We will make a formal announcement about the SEC Network in mid-April.”
The Pac-12 also has its own network, and it has given the West Coast conference instant and increased exposure nationwide. The SEC already enjoys massive amounts of national publicity due to its big names on the playing field (Johnny Manziel ring a bell?) and on the sidelines (what recruits don’t want to play for Nick Saban, Les Miles, Kevin Sumlin, Will Muschamp, Hugh Freeze or Steve Spurrier?).
The conference boasts two 100,000-plus seat stadiums in Knoxville, Tenn., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; the SEC’s 75,538 average attendance figures in 2012 led the nation by more than 5,000 fans per game (the Big Ten’s 70,040 per game average came in second).
Thus, the league breaks into television, and tens of millions of dollars are expected per year as a result. While no details are going to be released until that mid-April announcement, the channel is expected to be partnered with a major broadcasting company, most likely ESPN. Currently, 51-percent of the Big Ten Network is owned by Fox while the other 49 is owned by the league itself.
The SEC is already extremely closely tied to ESPN, and their future TV deal is expected to be similar to the setup the BTN shares with Fox. The channel should be launched by 2014, when the league’s current TV rights contract expires.