There's no bigger business in college sports than SEC football, which is why the SEC TV Network will rake in the cash when it kicks off in August of 2014.
ESPN will team up with the SEC to launch this new network, according to Michael Smith and John Ourand of SportsBusinessDaily.com:
The Southeastern Conference has completed the buy-back of its TV, digital and sponsorship rights from third parties, clearing the final hurdles to launch its TV channel with ESPN next year.
The conference and ESPN will make a formal announcement on the yet-to-be-named SEC channel, which will launch in August 2014, at an event Tuesday in Atlanta.
This new network will be much like the ones created by the Big Ten and Pacific 12 conferences. According to Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel, "both leagues and its members have seen a big financial windfall from the network deals."
Within the current constructs of the SEC's television deals, the schools in this conference were already raking in the cash, according to Murschel:
The SEC's current television rights deal with ESPN and CBS pays the league $205 million annually, which breaks down to $14.6 million per school. While financial details of this new deal were not released, it's likely the payday will be much larger.
Much larger may be an understatement.
As Murschel stated, the Pac-12 Network has already seen a "big financial windfall." Jeffery Martin of USA TODAY offered an estimate about how big this windfall would be before the 2012 football season began:
Some projections have the Pac-12 Networks, along with a 12-year, $3 billion deal with Fox and ESPN, providing roughly $30 million a school annually after a recent period in which some Pac-12 schools received slightly more than a quarter of that and their athletics programs became heavily dependent on university general funds.
The SEC is far more powerful than the Pac-12, not only in terms of competition, but also in terms of customer demand. Fans down south are absolutely rabid about their teams, and they take their football seriously.
Furthermore, SEC football teams have won the last seven BCS national championships, which only further boosts the conference's value.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Texas A&M, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas—the list of dominant college football programs seemingly never ends. SEC football is king, and now the schools will see a massive increase in revenue with this new network.
And football isn't the only sport that draws big crowds in the SEC. Florida is a national powerhouse year in and year out in college basketball, as is Kentucky.
This new network will be a cash cow for ESPN and every school in the SEC. The amount of money flowing into these schools will likely only make these schools stronger, too, as the money will allow them to continue building what's already the strongest conference in college sports.
The SEC TV Network is a brilliant move that will pay dividends, and it will happen sooner rather than later.
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