DirecTV has made a statement regarding the SEC Network, arguing it is fighting for non-sports fans while still hoping to carry the network when it launches next month.
"We're in the middle of productive discussions with Disney over ESPN's new SEC Network and hope to be able to provide it as soon as we possibly can," the undated statement reads. "Both DirecTV and Disney understand and appreciate the unique bond between SEC teams and the communities they represent, many of which lack any professional teams. We are working cooperatively to ensure that everyone can still see their favorite SEC team play at the most reasonable value to all SEC fans and the rest of our customers throughout the Southeast."
The problem in the negotiations is one that cable and satellite companies are fighting constantly at this point: in an era where it is more and more easy to cut the cord completely and go the Hulu/Netflix/Web steam route, networks are still wanting more and more money per subscriber.
The SEC Network and ESPN have themselves admitted they are looking for the same level of carriage as ESPNU, and Sports Business Daily reported earlier this year that the partnership is hoping for $1.30 per subscriber in the south and 25 cents out of it. Does not seem like much, but it's another expense to a rising bill for those who do not care about Ole Miss, Mississippi State or the other 12 schools.
"Many teams, leagues and conferences will deny their most loyal fans access to games in order to get everyone — whether you're a fan or not — to pay the soaring price of admission," DirecTV writes. "Every TV viewer should have a choice: Fans should have access to the games they want, and viewers with no interest in sports should not have to pay for what they don't want."
The SEC Network, which launches on Aug. 14, does have agreements in place with Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, Cox Communications and Google Fiber. That's around 27 million homes, and Comcast is reportedly close to a deal that would bump that up to 50 million. That's a huge number as compared to the Big Ten and Pac-12 Network launches.
The companies that will carry it are becoming increasingly bold too in marketing that fact. Dish Network is sponsoring two separate media parties at next week's SEC Media Days, promising free food and "beverages." Wonder what they want to chat about?
Hugh Kellenberger writes for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.