The SEC Network has reached its biggest deal yet, inking an agreement to have Comcast's Xfinity cable service provide the channel to its customers. The addition of Comcast, which according to industry data is the largest provider of live video, means the SEC will be available in 46 million homes -- even if no deal is reached with DirecTV or Time Warner.
This also might be good news for Time Warner customers, as long as anti-trust laws turn out to be no match for the trend of media mergers: Comcast plans to merge with Time Warner in the future, though that might not be much comfort to Time Warner fans right now. (The other side of this is that Comcast and Time Warner likely have some idea of what each other is doing on the business side, so this might be a positive sign for TWC customers independent of the merger.)
But perhaps the biggest benefit of the move is that it continues to put pressure on DirecTV. There are now millions of customers of the satellite giant who have another outlet, besides Dish Network, to switch to if DirecTV keeps holding out. Again, if providers are under the illusion that they will face no more repercussions from SEC fans than from Pac-12 fans, they are likely mistaken.
(Bonus for Aggies: The Longhorn Network is not included in the deal, as some had speculated. So troll away. I know that's not something you're used to doing or anything.)
Quotage. Mike Slive, start us off:
With more than three weeks still to go before launch, we are pleased to add Comcast, the largest cable television distributor in the country, to the growing list of providers that will bring the SEC Network to millions of fans nationwide.
Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager, video services, Comcast Cable -- make the only official statement by a Comcast bureaucrat that any real person will ever listen to:
We are extremely pleased to have reached this agreement with ESPN to deliver the SEC Network to Xfinity TV customers on multiple platforms. Whether in the home or on the go, Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch their favorite Southeastern Conference teams in more ways than ever before.
Some customers might have to bump up their cable package to get it, depending on where they live.
Comcast tells me SEC Network will be carried on Digital Starter plan in SEC states and Digital Preferred in the other markets.— Kristi Dosh (@SportsBizMiss) July 18, 2014
But the point is that millions of SEC fans will soon have access to the conference's network. And there's still time for millions more.