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Report: ESPN, SEC to announce channel next week

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN will make an announcement next week about a channel that will launch in August 2014, reports Sports Business Daily.

It will be the third major conference to have their own network joining the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences. According to the report, the SEC's yet-to-be named channel will be national and will work with ESPN to expand its operation. The agreement will hope to expand its reach beyond the southern states as it has won the last seven BCS championships in college football.

“The conference and the schools will be strengthened by this new arrangement,” IMG College President Ben Sutton said of the SEC. “It was a very productive negotiation. There’s always a little pain along the way, but both sides worked really hard to get this done.”

From Sports Business Daily:

The conference channel cleared its biggest obstacle in recent weeks when it reacquired the third-tier TV rights from IMG College, Learfield Sports and CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, the three rights holders that work with the conference’s 14 schools. Those third-tier TV rights represent one football game, eight men’s basketball games, baseball, women’s basketball and all other nonrevenue sports that are not picked up by ESPN or a syndicated partner. Those live games will move to ESPN for the conference channel, which is an important development because it means that ESPN will control the entire inventory of SEC football games, with the exception of CBS’s single game each week. That gives ESPN a lot of flexibility to use specific games in markets where it’s having trouble gaining distribution. If, for example, one of Louisiana’s biggest distributors, Cox, is holding out and not agreeing to carry the channel, it will be easier for ESPN to place more LSU games on it to help it gain more leverage in those negotiations.

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