With today's non-announcement announcement by Texas A&M, and the corresponding story in yesterday's NYT's regarding the SEC's television contracts being only slightly negotiable are we witnessing the birth of a true SEC Network? If the NYT's article is correct then Texas A&M can expect approximately $18 million yearly from the SEC, as can member 14- whoever that may be. However, one has to wonder why 12 existing members would agree to add members if the result is only a status quo financially. What's the catch?
Granted, adding Texas A&M is a fantastic fit culturally, academically, geographically, etc, etc. But if there's no new money for any existing member why do it? And don't tell me it's because of the recruiting. There is much more going on here than what we see on the surface. If ESPN and CBS are only going to kick in an additional 36 million for two new members, basically maintaining the current per team payout, then I seriously doubt they are getting any increase in game rights. I would expect that under this arrangement neither network is getting any increase in programming inventory. Yes, they are getting a larger pool to choose their inventory from, but no, they aren't getting an additional 24 games of programming for $36 million. Mike Slive is much to smart to allow that. So what happens to the additional 16 conference games that wouldn't be covered under the existing contracts? Further, what about the approximately 64 non conference games that aren't covered under any contract unless they are away or neutral? Yes, basic math leads to YOU MEAN THE SEC MIGHT HAVE 80 TIER II AND TIER III GAMES NOT TELEVISED. Possibly. In some cases Fox Sports has been picking up a few Tier III games straight from members, Florida has a good deal with the Sunshine Network for a couple of their Tier III games, but what about everyone else. Think about it, Texas A&M just increased the potential viewership of an SEC Network by around 45%. Any other new member is going to be an increase in potential viewership as well, as long as they are in a new footprint state. The network would cover the two most populated states in the South, as well as two of the top four in the entire nation (Florida and Texas).
Slive has watched what was the largest television deal in history drop to third in less than a few years. Did I mention that it's a conference with the most rabid fans in the nation? Did I mention that it's the conference that has won the last five BCS National Championships? Did I mention that it's the conference that has won the last two College World Series? I know I haven't mentioned the conference's impressive resume regarding Women's Softball, Swimming & Diving, Track & Field. Hey, even the Basketball isn't bad, it may not be the ACC or Big East yet, but the fans fill up the arenas and too many of them are having to watch games on their computer- this isn't the MAC ya know. I have to believe that there is ample programming available and that Slive and the presidents have discussed the possibility of an SEC Network after seeing what Larry Scott has accomplished with the PAC12. Would any cable company dare not placing it on their basic tier or expanded basic tier? Not in the South they wouldn't. The new expanded footprint of the SEC (not counting the 14th member) will encompass over 75 million homes. Even at .80c a pop per year you're talking about an additional $60 million bucks. Divided 13 ways that's an additional $4.6 million per school per year. A high population 14th member state and you're easily looking at up to $6 million additional per university. But really, is there an SEC team who's fans wouldn't accept a full dollar per month increase in their cable bill for the SEC Network? If you're out there let me hear from you cause I've never met ya! So now we're talking about, what $900 million (using the 13 members footprint) split between the 13 yearly- that's about $70 million per university. Only in the SEC are those type numbers possible.
So, bring on the SEC Network. I can' t wait to see Alabama v. Georgia Southern, Auburn v. Samford, and LSU v. Tulane. And yes, I'll pay my $12 bucks per year for it.