By Jamie H. Vaught
August 14, 2014.
That's the date when the new SEC Network -- the new channel established by ESPN and the conference -- makes its television debut.
But there is still no agreement between the Charlotte-based SEC Network and Time Warner Cable and other carriers as of Monday morning, June 16, and if that happens in mid-August many viewers in Kentucky and the Southeast region would be missing tons of SEC action.
However, both parties have confirmed that they are talking and working on a deal.
"We have had discussions with ESPN to carry the SEC Network, but do not have an agreement at this time," wrote TWC spokesman Michael Pedelty in an e-mail Monday morning, June 16, with this columnist. "It is important to note the network doesn't launch until August of this year."
Commented ESPN spokesperson Keri Potts Sunday night, June 15, "We continue to have productive conversations with distributors about the value of the SEC Network. We have an entire summer (to negotiate)."
Potts also pointed out the network's opening date in mid-August and that the first football games take place on August 28, a Thursday night doubleheader featuring Texas A&M-at-South Carolina and Temple-at-Vanderbilt matchups.
Asked if he was optimistic about the possible agreement, TWC's Pedelty said he couldn't speculate what would happen.
Based on various media reports, the sticking point apparently is the cost of programming fees as the cable and satellite providers are concerned about the possibility of passing the cost on to their subscribers.
Staff writer John Ourand has been covering television and media for Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal and he has a thought about this situation.
"Given the fervor with which SEC fans follow their teams, I would be surprised if Time Warner Cable does not not strike a deal to carry the SEC Network -- either just before or just after launch," he said.
By the way, as you probably have heard, TWC and Comcast -- the giants in the cable TV industry -- have recently agreed to a $45.2 billion merger and the proposed combination is being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Justice.
So far, the SEC Network -- a TV partnership between the SEC and ESPN with a 20-year contract -- has carrier agreements with AT&T U-Verse, DISH, Google Fiber and National Rural Telecommunications cooperative (NRTC).
As of right now, TWC, Comcast and DirecTV haven't reached agreements to carry the SEC Network. It should be pointed out that AT&T is purchasing DirecTV but both companies will still be indepedent by the time the network launches in less than two months. So DirecTV will make the decision, not AT&T.
In case you are wondering, the roster of SEC Network football broadcasters will include Brent Musburger, Tim Tebow, Jesse Palmer, among others.