SEC NATION on the SEC Network

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Football season kicks off August 28 with Texas A&M University playing The University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. When the Aggies line up against the Gamecocks the only two ways fans will be able to watch the game is from inside Williams-Brice Stadium or by watching on the SEC Network, says Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president, college networks.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this article was written, Suddenlink has signed a contract to carry the SEC Network.

By Leigha Faulkner

Football season kicks off August 28 with Texas A&M University playing The University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. When the Aggies line up against the Gamecocks the only two ways fans will be able to watch the game is from inside Williams-Brice Stadium or by watching on the SEC Network, says Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president, college networks.

The problem is many Aggies may not have access to the game if their cable or satellite provider has not inked a deal to carry the new SEC Network. At press time, Brazos Valley fans signed up with the cable company Suddenlink are, so far, among the left behind.

“We are in conversation with every provider, including Suddenlink, but we don’t have a deal with Suddenlink yet,” Connolly says. “We have a lot to do in the next month. Week to week and sport to sport there are winners and losers, and our network has to cover the conference in its totality and its success,” explains Connolly. “It will be a challenge to do this in a respectful and honest way.”

Keeping score on who has signed up to carry the SEC Network, so far Comcast, Dish Network, Cox Communications, AT&T U-verse and Google Fiber have signed on to carry SEC Network. Both the SEC Network and Aggie athletics websites have “Demand it Now” buttons that provide fans with contact links to encourage unsigned broadcasters to get on the ball.

As for Texas A&M, the university stands to reap great rewards from the SEC Network and all of the coverage it will provide of the campus. “The network was created as an opportunity to provide increased exposure to all 14 [SEC] schools including athletics and the campuses and feel of the schools,” says Connolly. “It will bring passion and competition to the screen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Texas A&M made a huge splash coming into the SEC, Connolly says. “Texas A&M has a Heisman trophy winner and played an awesome game at the Cotton Bowl, which has brought incredible benefits along with the extension of the SEC into Texas when [Texas A&M] joined,” says Connolly.

The level of engagement across the student body at Texas A&M is unlike anything else, says Connolly. “The fans and having midnight yell and the entire atmosphere adds another dimension to the Southeastern Conference,” says Connolly. “I’m not sure anyone has a fan base as passionate as the Aggies.”
For the most up-to-date availability of SEC Network providers is listed on getsecnetwork.com.