Ed Note: This syndicated article appears courtesy Crystal Ball Run.
For weeks, months and at this point years, we’ve know that eventually, the SEC would launch its own television network. As things stand, there is simply too much money being left on the table by not having a television network, especially for a conference which is home to the last seven BCS National Championship football teams.
Well either way, the time for that launch appears to be impending, with the SEC set to make a formal announcement on the network sometime in mid-April, according to Yahoo’s Pat Forde.
Here is what SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told Forde on Thursday, with both in Nashville for this week’s SEC basketball tournament:
"Our focus for now is on our tournament and the NCAA tournament," Slive said. "We will make a formal announcement about the SEC Network in mid-April."
Again, the fact that the network will be launched is no surprise; ever since the Pac-12 negotiated a lucrative contract based around the Pac-12 Network which netted conference schools somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-$22 million a piece, it was only a matter of time before the SEC launched their own channel. However, after years of behind the scenes conversations, Thursday was the first time we had a clear and concise timeframe on it all.
Of course the question now becomes how much the network will be worth to SEC schools. According to Forde, the conference will likely partner the SEC Network with a proven entity in the sports media, in the same way that Fox owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network (the conference owns the other 49 percent). ESPN is obviously the front-runner to secure that contract when it comes about, with the Sports Business Journal previously reporting that the network will eventually partner with the Worldwide Leader in Sports, in hopes of an August 2014 launch.
Regardless, this network will be a major financial boon for conference schools. The SEC’s last television contract was negotiated in 2009-2010 at the tune of $3 billion over 15 years, a contract which gave conference schools a “meager” 16.6 million a year at the time. That number dipped to only over $14 million a season for conference schools, following the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri last summer.
Only with the addition of this network, along with the potential payout that could come with the highly anticipated college football playoff, all of a sudden, some outlets such as USA Today, are speculating that SEC schools could take in over $30 million a year when all is said and done. Yup, that’s over a 50 percent increase from what conference schools are currently taking home.
With the SEC and their television network, it really is a case of the rich getting richer.
And if money really is what drives college football, than it doesn’t appear as though the SEC, or their dominance, is slowing down any time soon.