Sorting out the SEC’s TV puzzle

   Hoover, Ala. — Amid the piles of paper produced for distribution at SEC Media Days, there’s an instructive grid detailing television arrangements for the first three weeks of the SEC season.  By my count, those games will appear on seven different networks (CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FSN and CSS).  Then there’s one game per week that doesn’t go on a network per se, but rather to a syndicate of local stations in 73 markets around the country (including Peachtree TV in Atlanta).  And there’s one game per school per season that is reserved for pay-per-view.

  Got all that?

   Starting times run the gamut from noon ET  to 10:30 p.m. ET (LSU at Washington Sept. 5 on ESPN). On Sept. 5, from the noon start of the Kentucky-Miami (Ohio) game on ESPNU  to the late finish of the LSU-Washington game, SEC football will be on TV for about 14 consecutive hours.

   Better make sure you’ve got extra batteries for the remote control.

    Almost two-thirds of the games in the first three weeks will be played at night — a concession the SEC made to maximize TV dollars.  The SEC has had a significant number of night games on ESPN and ESPN2 in the past. But the number of night games increases this season with new packages of prime-time games on FSN, CSS and ESPNU.

   All of this stems from the $3-billion, 15-year TV deals the SEC signed with CBS and ESPN last  summer — shortly before, as commissioner Mike Slive noted thankfully on Wednesday, the full impact of the recession hit.

  CBS maintains an exclusive 3:30 p.m. Saturday slot for what it deems the SEC’s top game each week (starting in Week 3 of the season), and on two occasions later in the season CBS has day-night SEC doubleheaders.  Aside from the CBS selections, ESPN controls all games. But since not even ESPN’s roster of networks can accommodate all of that programming, ESPN has subcontracted seven games to FSN, six to CSS and 13 to the syndicate of local over-the-air stations.

   As if you need further evidence of the SEC’s popularity as programming, consider this about the syndication package, which is being branded “SEC Network”:  In addition to airing on local stations across the SEC footprint, those 13 early-afternoon games will be on affiliates in  New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, among other places, according to ESPN executive vice president for programming acquisition and strategy John Wildhack.  Slive said the presidents of the SEC schools wanted more exposure outside the Southeast from the new TV deals,  believing that would help in recruiting students.  The syndicated games will be preceded by  a 20-minute SEC studio show, on which former UGA star Matt Stinchcomb will be the analyst.

   “I think one of the [SEC’s] advantages is, we have become a national brand,” Slive said. “Many conferences, the intensity of their following is more regional. With that has come some benefits to us.”

  Game times and TV slots have been determined through the first three  weeks of the season. Thereafter, most game times will be set no more than 6 or 12 days in advance. (One exception: the Oct. 31 Georgia-Florida game, which already is slotted for 3:30 p.m. on CBS, as usual.)

   Here’s the SEC television schedule for the first three weeks:


   7 p.m.: South Carolina at N.C. State, ESPN


  Noon: Kentucky vs. Miami (Ohio) in Cincinnati, ESPNU

  12:21 p.m.:  Western Kentucky at Tennessee, syndicated (WPCH in Atlanta)

  3:30 p.m.: Georgia at Oklahoma State, ABC

  3:30 p.m.: Jackson State at Mississippi State, ESPNU

  7 p.m.: Louisiana Tech at Auburn, ESPNU

  7 p.m.: Charleston Southern at Florida, FSN

  7 p.m.: Missouri State at Arkansas, pay-per-view

  7:30 p.m.: Western Carolina at Vanderbilt, CSS

   8 p.m.: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta, ABC

  10:30 p.m.: LSU at Washington, ESPN


  3:30 p.m.: Mississippi at Memphis, ESPN



  12:21 p.m.: Troy at Florida, syndicated (WPCH in Atlanta)

  4 p.m.: UCLA at Tennessee, ESPN

  7 p.m.: South Carolina at Georgia, ESPN2

  7 p.m.: Vanderbilt at LSU, ESPNU

  7 p.m.: Mississippi State at Auburn, FSN

  7 p.m.: Florida International at Alabama, pay-per-view



  Noon: Louisville at Kentucky, ESPNU

  12:21 p.m.:  North Texas at Alabama, syndicated (WPCH in Atlanta)

  3:30 p.m.: Tennessee at Florida, CBS

  7 p.m.: Louisiana Lafayette at LSU, ESPNU

  7 p.m.: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt, FSN

  7 p.m.: Florida Atlantic at South Carolina, pay-per-view

  7:30 p.m.: Southeastern Louisiana at Mississippi, CSS

  7:45 p.m.: Georgia at Arkansas, ESPN or ESPN2

  7:45 p.m.: West Virginia at Auburn, ESPN or ESPN2

12 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

July 23rd, 2009
1:00 am

45-42!!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahahaha


July 23rd, 2009
1:02 am

Thank you for not mentioning the gainesville quarterback!


July 23rd, 2009
1:04 am

Saint Simons: Reggie Ball, hhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha


July 23rd, 2009
2:25 am

Hey ACC fans where’s your tv package

[...] * The AJC’s Tim Tucker points out that on Sept. 5, there will be about 15 consecutive hours of SEC football on TV [...]


July 23rd, 2009
11:48 am

“Hey ACC fans where’s your tv package”

Its probably in the same mysterious place where Tech keeps its list of “character standards” for incoming football players. The Land of Oz perhaps?

DC from Conyers

July 23rd, 2009
11:50 am

You people really ride a dead horse don’t you? 45-42 is old news. Please move on. Don’t you all have some robbers to catch down there?

Crazy Thursday Linkage

July 23rd, 2009
12:31 pm

[...] Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tries to sort out the new ESPN/SEC [...]

So, Toccoa dog

July 23rd, 2009
10:14 pm

did that $$$tv package help the dogs on Dooly day? Many saw Tech have the best third quarter in the history of sanfurd stadium.

Why would a fan from Toccoa Falls make foolish comments about the mighty ACC?

Go Gator

July 24th, 2009
5:46 pm


July 24th, 2009
6:45 pm

I’m stupid.

Greek Dawg

July 24th, 2009
9:36 pm

How can we get a copy of the grid?