Charter deal sets up SEC Network for biggest launch in cable history

ESPN has reached a carriage deal with Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) for the SEC Network which will make the Aug. 14 launch of the new regional sports network the biggest ever for any cable channel at around 91 million homes.

The previous mark was the 90 million homes Fox Sports 1 debuted in a year ago when it was converted into a national sports network from the Speed Channel.

With the deal, the Disney-backed SEC Network has carriage agreements with every major pay TV provider except Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ).

The Charter agreement covers about 4 million subscribers across most of the South Eastern Conference's footprint--Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but ESPN has been negotiating fees that amount to around $1.40 per subscriber in the SEC footprint and around 25 cents per customer outside that region.

"We are excited to be bringing the SEC Network to Charter customers," said Allan Singer, senior VP of programming for Charter.  "We know that there are many SEC fans and grads in our footprint who are ready to cheer on their team and we are glad that the SEC Network will be available to them when it launches on August 14th."

"With the addition of Charter, SEC Network is currently slated to be available to eight of the top ten distributors nationwide at launch, covering 90 percent of all U.S. cable homes," added Sean Breen, Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior VP, affiliate sales.  "We look forward to serving Charter customers nationwide, including many SEC markets."

For more:
- read this Charter press release

Related links:
With DirecTV, Suddenlink deals, SEC Network's reach on par with Big Ten Network
SEC Network passes another major carriage milestone: Time Warner Cable
Comcast signs on to carry the SEC Network