SEC Network launches with pigskin preseason, preview, and past games

ESPN’s new channel features Tim Tebow as a host and will air 45 live football games
Illustration by Jason Schneider
Illustration by Jason Schneider

It’s August. It’s the Southeast. Are you ready for some college football? That question is purely rhetorical because, ready or not, here comes ESPN’s SEC Network, ramming round-the-clock gridiron action and commentary—including gospel from Saint Tebow himself—smack into your face mask.

The new channel launches on August 14, broadcasting a barrage of pigskin preseason, preview, and reruns from seasons past, all leading up to a live football doubleheader of Texas A&M–South Carolina and Vanderbilt–Temple on August 28.

But the forty-five live football games are just the tip of the ball. Whether you watch or not, the involuntary hike in your cable bill (which will be determined by each provider but should be around $1.30 per month, compared with around $1 for the Big Ten Network) will also get you 160 men’s and women’s basketball contests, seventy-five baseball games, fifty softball tilts, and forty women’s volleyball matches, not to mention 550 additional events—including Olympic sports like swimming and track—that will be streaming through the network’s online platform.

The prospect of the new network ruffled some feathers. Sports nuts originally worried Comcast and DirecTV would deprive them of that SEC programming, angrily posting their frustrations at fan site, but both networks and Brighthouse have recently signed on to carry the channel. The less rabid crowd griped about impending cable rate increases.

The SEC itself, however, is just fine with a deal that may generate as much as $450 million in revenue, a 30 percent increase over 2013, making it the most valuable conference in the country. (Last year, it was fourth.)

So for all you curmudgeons who like to leave your couch on fall Saturday afternoons and don’t want to line Nick Saban’s pockets, cough up your cash or cancel your cable. But for all the fans of college golf or shot put: Rejoice! Hours of programming await.

This article originally appeared in our August 2014 issue.