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Jul
19
2014

SEC Network signs carriage deal with Comcast and that’s good news for the ACC.

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Today the SEC finalized a carriage deal with Comcast, as reported by Sports Business Daily. 

SEC Network landed its biggest fish Friday, announcing a long-term carriage deal with the country’s biggest distributor. Comcast will carry the channel at its Aug. 14 launch on its expanded basic tier within SEC territory and digital basic outside of it. Sources say the channel’s rate card is at $1.40 per subscriber per month within the SEC’s 11-state footprint and $0.25 per month outside of it.

That’s an outstanding deal for the SEC, as the SEC Network continues to gain carriage from cable distributors. Back in May we told you the Big 10 was completing deals in the NY/NJ area  and what it meant for the ACC. Are you seeing a trend with the SEC’s latest deal? There doesn’t appear to be any slow down in the marketability of the live college sports.

That is good news for the ACC as they attempt to get their network off the ground. Rutgers and Maryland have been at best mediocre athletic programs for several years yet they are getting carriage in their population footprints. The SEC was able to get one of the highest carriage rates known with their Comcast deal.

You have to give  credit to Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany for recognizing the potential in conference networks years ago. John Swofford and the ACC presidents at the time deserve at least some criticism for lacking the foresight to invest in this model when they had the chance around the same time as Delany.

That said the ACC is now in negotiations with ESPN to start a network, and clearly it’s not too late. John Swofford has said several times that he was watching with great interest the progression of the SEC Network with ESPN. He has to be pleased that ESPN appears to be such a strong negotiator with the Cable Companies. The SEC is having an easier time gaining carriage than the Big 10 Network or Pac 12 Networks originally did.

An anti-ACC critic may say, well that’s the SEC. The ACC doesn’t have their following. I won’t argue that. The SEC has tremendous fan support especially in football. I would counter that argument with the Rutgers\Maryland carriage success this year. It’s a great model honestly.

It doesn’t really matter if the sports is good. It doesn’t matter if anyone watches. It only matters that you get it on cable and pass the rate on to the subscriber. They pay whether they want it or not. Just like on my $10 sports tier that I get the Big 10 Network. I rarely if ever watch it, but the Big 10 Network gets paid just the same. That said having solid sports does help with the primary television contract, but less so with network building.

Considering the success and ease of the Big 10 and SEC are finalizing cable deals this year, I would consider it a epic failure if the ACC can’t capitalize on what looks like a bull market for conference networks.

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