Expect SEC Network to be ominous, expensive, everywhere

Kelly Lambert

The SEC and ESPN are partnering on a SEC-only TV network, which will be revealed soon.

The SEC and ESPN were set to announce the SEC Network in Atlanta on Tuesday, but changed schedules due to Monday's Boston tragedy.

We know just about everything we need to know for the moment about the network, however: it's expected to launch just before the 2014 football season, it'll be a 24-hour production, it'll likely boost revenues for each SEC school near or beyond the Big Ten's, it has a potential audience of 30 million homes even without adding schools, and it will air actual events of importance, including major football games on certain Saturdays.

Rich people will get richer, and sports fans who should exercise more in the offseason will exercise less. Win-win!

CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler has a rundown, including his report that the network could sometimes carry the SEC's No. 2 game of the week, behind only the CBS game typically aired at 3:30 p.m. ET. The SEC's second-best game will often be a ranked-vs.-ranked affair or a significant rivalry -- last year, Alabama-Tennessee, South Carolina-Florida, and LSU-Texas A&M fell on the same day. Since it's an ESPN partnership and ESPN has the SEC's rights after CBS, which games go on which ESPN networks will remain flexible.

The main thing we know about the SEC Network is this: it will likely be everywhere. ESPN and the SEC will charge cable companies a lot of money for it, and cable companies will pay a lot of money for it. Barring an insane number, it's hard to imagine the SEC Network not landing on all major carriers in time for football.

Almost a year later, the Pac-12 is still not on DirecTV, with no resolution in sight. The Longhorn Network is making progress, but the Horns' own hometown might not widely have it until Google Fiber arrives.

Taken as a whole, Pac-12 fans are passionate, but they are not SEC fans, which explains a lot about the overall well-being and quality of life one often finds on the West Coast. The threat of making Alabama, Georgia, LSU, or Arkansas fans miss a conference game, especially perhaps the second-biggest game of the week, will either end with accommodated sports fans or toppled walls, and that's without even shuddering at the thought of Texas A&M fans not seeing a game after leaving the Big 12 in some small part due to a custom ESPN network.

The Longhorn Network can hide the Wyoming game from those who don't have access. That sucks for sports fans, but it doesn't match the pressure the SEC Network and ESPN can apply. The LHN can't convincingly threaten to take a national game like, say, this year's TCU game, while the SEC Network can.

Cable companies will either pay what the SEC and ESPN want them to pay or we'll get an off-air show even better than much of what the network will broadcast.

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