The SEC is the current “it” conference. ESPN is the current “it” sports television network.
Together, they have joined forces to ensure that people — and potential recruits — from Albany to Zuni are exposed to the wonders of the deepest and most competitive conference in the country.
What follows is the complete press release officially announcing a joint venture between the SEC and ESPN, something being called “The SEC Network”:
ESPN Regional Television, the new over-the-air syndication home for Southeastern Conference programming, and the SEC announced today a regionally syndicated college sports package that will air in more than 73 television markets, along with the branding of the syndication package as the SEC Network – all part of the groundbreaking 15-year agreement between ESPN, Inc., and the SEC.
Within the nine-state SEC footprint, the SEC Network will be delivered in markets by the local over-the-air carrier of SEC events. In markets outside the SEC footprint, the syndicated programming will air on either local, over-the-air television stations or regional sports cable networks.
Coverage will feature extensive football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball telecasts, produced by ESPN Regional Television.
“As ESPN moves forward in this landmark agreement with the SEC, ESPN Regional Television is thrilled to provide our viewers with a consistent window for Southeastern Conference football and basketball,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president & general manager, ESPN Regional Television. “With ESPN’s multimedia platforms, we anticipate SEC sports will touch an unprecedented base of college fans nationwide.”
The SEC Network will feature an SEC football Game of the Week regionally for 13 consecutive Saturdays, beginning Sept. 5. Those telecasts will kick off at noon ET/11 a.m. CT with the live SEC Studio show, followed by the matchup, generally determined 12 to six days in advance. The new kickoff time for the Game of the Week will be 12:21 p.m. ET.
Longtime SEC announcer Dave Neal will call the weekly SEC Network game on Saturdays, along with analyst Andre Ware and reporter Cara Capuano.
The SEC Studio show is produced by ESPN Regional Television at their headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., also the home of ESPNU. The SEC show will kick off Saturday coverage with host Rob Stone and analyst Matt Stinchcomb in the studio.
The regular-season SEC men’s basketball package on the SEC Network beginning in January will consist of Wednesday and Saturday games, including doubleheaders. The SEC Network will also offer regional coverage of multiple rounds from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament as well as SEC women’s basketball games on Sundays, also beginning in January.
“The SEC Network, through the efforts of ESPN, will be the largest college sports syndication television package in the country,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “The comprehensive market coverage in the nine-state SEC area combined with the out-of-market reach gives us significant additional exposure for our programs.”
The markets that will air the package represent more than 54 million television households, or 47 percent of the U.S. Before the first football game this season, as clearance work continues, the coverage area will be larger still. The 15-year agreement between ESPN and the SEC begins with the 2009-10 season and continues through 2023-24.