May 2, 2013

SEC and ESPN announce new TV network

ATLANTA - Probably the worst-kept secret in college football finally became official Thursday when ESPN and the Southeastern Conference announced the formation of the SEC Network during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency downtown.

"The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platform," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student athlete in our league."

The Network will kick off in August of 2014 and be part of a new 20-year media agreement between ESPN and the SEC that will run through 2034.

Financial details of the contract were not disclosed, but Slive revealed that the new deal calls for 45 football games to be televised live per year - three a week for 13 weeks - 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games and 75 baseball games each year.

AT&T U-verse has been secured as the network's first national distributor.

Championship sessions for the league's 21 sports will also be televised, along with original content, such as "SEC Storied, National Signing Day and Pro Day events as well as specific school content produced and developed just for the network.

"In short, there will be something for every SEC fan, all the time," Slive said. "This project is something we're looking forward and definitely excited about its launch."

ESPN President John Skipper said coming together with the conference to form the SEC Network was a no-brainer.

"With the interest and the passion that this part of the country has, I believe this a unique opportunity and nothing quite like this has been done before," Skipper said. "The level of distribution we'll have from the beginning, the overall production and the amount of games that we'll have, the integration of digital platforms, this has taken us to another level and that's why we're thrilled to be here."

The conference's 14 head coaches who attended the event had plenty of positive things to say as well.

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