Continuing to defeat the strong headwinds facing new regional sports networks, the ESPN-backed SEC Network has announced carriage deals with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Brighthouse Networks.
"We know we have customers who want the SEC Network, and are pleased to bring it to them," said Andrew Rosenberg, senior VP of content acquisition for Time Warner Cable. "This deal will help ensure that fans and alumni of SEC universities won't miss any important games."
With the nation's No. 2 cable operator in the fold, as well as Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T) and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), the RSN is down to now negotiating with only DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR), at least as far as major affiliate deals are concerned. The SEC Network launches Aug. 14, and its first major programming event is Aug. 30, when Southeastern Conference college football teams kick off their 2014 season.
All eyes will most certainly be on DirecTV going forward.
The satellite company, once known as a sports programming leader, has notably eschewed a number of key RSN deals of late. The Pac-12 Network is on the cusp of its third NCAA Division I football season without a DirecTV deal. This week, as the Pac-12 conference's coaches and top players addressed media on the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood, Calif., Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said no deal is expected anytime soon.
"We continue to have discussions with DirecTV," he told media, which included the Los Angeles Times. "Sitting here today, [I'm] not optimistic about those discussions. We continue to ask them to provide it to the many Pac-12 fans."
According to SportsBusiness Daily, ESPN, which is overseeing the SEC Network's sales and operations for corporate parent The Walt Disney Company, is seeking carriage fees amounting to around $1.40 per subscriber in the 11 states in which SEC member schools are situated, and 25 cents per subscriber in the areas outside that footprint.
Earlier in July, DirecTV released a statement saying its talks with ESPN about the channel had been "productive," but there has been no subsequent public communication from the El Segundo, Calif. pay TV company about the matter.
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