Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An SEC Network? Yes please!

College football spring meetings aren't always the most exciting events, though they can help bridge the void between spring practice and summer workouts. This year's SEC meetings, however have provided fans of the conference with something to think about regarding television coverage. That's right, they might be able to enjoy their very own TV network.

The league's contracts with its network partners expire in the next year, prompting SEC leadership to start preliminary negotiations as to whether to extend those deals or create a new plan for SEC sports on television.

"All that stuff is very much on the table right now," UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. "Where it stands, how viable it is, time will tell."

League officials continue to study the feasibility of an SEC Network, which could launch as soon as the fall of 2009. The channel could be modeled upon similar endeavors by the NFL, the Big Ten and the Mountain West Conference.

Raycom Sports executive producer Jimmy Rayburn said Tuesday he expects the league to decide on a channel by the end of this calendar year. Regardless of that decision, Rayburn said he expects the SEC to maintain working deals with major national networks, likely CBS and ESPN. If an SEC Network becomes reality, Raycom could help produce and distribute games, as it does now for the league.

Obviously, making the decision on having the channel at all is a big first step, but that would surely be followed with lengthy discussions on how it's going to be carried. So far, the Big 10 Network hasn't had the easiest time with respect to carriage rights. Though, the SEC is probably a more widely popular conference, and would likely have an easier time being priced reasonably on a variety of broadcast companies' tiers. Or maybe the Big 10 has had a problem because their commissioner, Jim Delaney, is a jerk. Whatever the case may be, having a network fully devoted to SEC sports would be an awesome thing. Though, the cost of replacing TV's because of the channel's awesomeness destroying them could get up there.

SEC Network set to launch in 3...2...1...

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