The SEC Network is likely to become a reality before the 2014 football season as a partnership between the conference and ESPN, according to Sports Business Journal.
The report states that the TV rights issues still yet to be cleared are in the process of being streamlined for the potential all-SEC network, and that a August 2014 date is the tentative launch. Among the most pressing items in the way are the schools' local TV rights, currently held by a variety of different companies. Those rights are good for at least one football game per season and 6-8 men's basketball games, per SBJ:
CBS has the rights at LSU, while Learfield has Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. IMG College has the rights at the rest of the schools, except for Ole Miss, plus a minority share of the Alabama property.
Also, the report forecasts Charlotte, N.C., as the likely home of the new network. Despite sitting outside of the league's footprint, Charlotte is home to ESPN Regional Networks, the company responsible the ESPNU Network, ESPN's SEC regional football coverage and also ESPN's bowl game and basketball tournaments.
Aside from the shared revenue -- the SEC Network is expected to be the most lucrative conference-specific network to date -- ESPN will also gain control of the league's marketing, SBJ notes:
Being able to package TV advertising from the new network into corporate sponsorships will give ESPN a sales advantage when it takes over the SEC’s marketing rights. The SEC’s list of corporate champions includes Allstate, AT&T, Dr Pepper and Regions Bank, while a second tier of sponsors has Aaron’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golden Flake, UPS and eight others.