Comcast Cable customers are now assured of getting the SEC Network when it launches on Aug. 14, yet there are viewers in Oxford and Starkville who could be left in the dark.
Metrocast Communications, a cable provider in both of those SEC towns, has yet to reach an agreement with ESPN to provide the SEC Network. Comcast joined the fold officially on Friday, bringing to a total of 46 million households that will broadcast the SEC Network.
Major providers including Dish Network, Cox Communications and AT&T U-Verse were already on board. It’s thought that Time-Warner Cable and another major satellite provider, DirecTV, will get on board soon.
The SEC is aiming to be in 75 million households by the time football season begins. By contrast, the Big Ten Network launched in 2007 in 16 million homes and now is in about 90 million homes in the U.S. and Canada.
With cable systems paying handsomely to carry the network and the potential for an eventual windfall from advertisers, there’s speculation the network could generate $500 million annually for ESPN – which retained ownership of the network – and the league.
Each member school got about $20.9 million in revenue distribution from the league office in 2014. That’s a figure that might eventually double with a boost from the new league network.
The SEC Network will broadcast at least 45 football games this season, including Mississippi State’s season-opener at home against Southern Miss on Saturday, Aug. 30. The first football broadcast will be Texas A&M at South Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 28.
All 14 league football teams will be seen within the first four weeks of the season. Ole Miss appears on Sept. 13, in its home opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Beyond football, the network is promising to show more than 1,000 live events – many of those online.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable system with more than 22 million subscribers, began with the purchase of a small cable system in Tupelo in 1969.