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Report: The SEC is looking to start its own network

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
Want to know why a conference that is already the most powerful college football conference in the country adds two new schools it doesn't necessarily need? It does so because now the SEC can renegotiate its television contracts with both CBS and ESPN, the two networks that own the rights to SEC football games in the fall.

As you'd expect, given the television deals that have gone to the Pac-12 and the Big 12 in the last year, the SEC will be looking for more money from both ESPN and CBS for the right to broadcast games, though that's not the end goal here.

According to Sports Business Daily(subscription), the SEC is once again looking into the idea of starting its own SEC Network, much like the Big Ten currently has.
The 14-team conference has been negotiating with both networks this year after the SEC expanded with Texas A&M and Missouri. That triggered a clause in the SEC's deal that allows the league to go back to the negotiating table with its partners, just as the ACC recently renegotiated its media contract with ESPN after its own expansion with Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

The bigger negotiation is with ESPN, and talks appear to revolve around an SEC-branded cable channel that could launch as early as 2014. ESPN's current arrangement with the SEC — negotiated in 2008 — pays an average of $150 million a year over 15 years.
Now while the SEC seems determined to have its own network, what we don't know is what kind of role the conference will play in the television station. With the Big Ten Network, the Big Ten itself owns 49% of the network and shares the revenue with Fox.

It's unknown whether this is the model the SEC would like to pursue with ESPN, or if the SEC would sell all it's rights to ESPN, much like Texas did with the Longhorn Network. Then there's the way the Pac-12 went with its television deal, where the conference owns all of its regional networks.

Whatever path the SEC chooses, the network can't begin before 2014 because that's when ESPN will get back the syndication rights of SEC games it sold to regional sports networks.
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