Something that John Ourand of the SBJ reported back in January has come to fruition: Dish Network will carry the SEC Network from launch. If you either can't have or don't want terrestrial TV service, you have an option to get the conference's new channel from Day 1.
Dish is a big get for the SECN because DirecTV is likely to play hardball when it comes to carriage rights. It still does not carry the Pac-12 Networks and seemingly has no plans to. It likely feels that its NFL Sunday Ticket insulates it from sports fans (and particularly football fans) from switching away, but if there's any region where noticeable amounts of people would dump DirecTV and Sunday Ticket in order to watch more college football, it's the southeast.
As always, you can help put pressure on your TV provider by going here and entering your information. So far, Dish and AT&T Uverse are on board. If you subscribe to anything else, get clicking.
This year is shaping up to be a pretty big year for media.
The SECN deal is part of a larger deal with Disney for all of its ABC, ESPN, and Disney channels. Part of it gives Dish the ability to offer Disney's five biggest channels—ABC, ABC Family, Disney, ESPN, and ESPN2—to people over the Internet who do not otherwise have Dish subscriptions. The channels have to be bundled together, but this is the first deal that allows anything that smacks of à la carte Internet TV. Dish isn't launching such a thing right now, but the fact that it can is very interesting.
Also, you know how we and everyone else says that the high rights fees for sports are reasonable because sports are DVR proof? This new deal will limit Dish subscribers' ability to use the Dish DVR's "AutoHop" ad skipping feature on ABC shows for three days after they air. If such deals become widespread across the industry, that could push sports rights fees lower in the future thanks to everything else becoming DVR resistant.
Of course, that premise assumes DVRs will be necessary on into the future. Now that the cat is out of the bag with Dish's web broadcasting deal, more such deals are likely to follow. Plus, there are going to be some new boxes hooking up to TVs later this year. Apple is probably going to be overhauling its Apple TV offering in a big way this year, while Amazon could be introducing a web TV box of some sort as early as this month.
So again, 2014 is a big year for media. It's worth it to keep a close eye on what Disney does, considering that ESPN is the sole owner of the SEC Network. Future options for getting SECN content are entirely dependent on what Disney decides to do with its properties.
This certainly is an interesting environment to be launching a new TV channel in, considering that the long term future of TV is entirely up in the air.