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Comcast Will Carry the SEC Network

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When the SEC Network debuts in August, it will be the most successful start of a regional sports network to date.

Kevin C. Cox

ESPN's goal to have the SEC Network available in 75 million homes on its launch date got one step closer Friday when Comcast, the nation's largest distributor, agreed to terms.

Comcast, will offer the SEC Network on its expanded basic tier in the 11 states with SEC programs and will pay an astounding $1.40 per month per subscriber. Comcast will also pay $0.25 cents per subscriber in the rest of the country.

With Comcast on board the SEC Network will be available in at least 46 million homes on its August 14th launch. The deal with Comcast also includes "TV Everywhere" distribution, allowing for the network to be live streamed on any mobile device owned by a subscriber.

Friday's announcement leaves Time Warner Cable and DirecTV as the only major distributors who have not made a deal for the SEC Network.  However, Fox Sports is reporting that ESPN and DirecTV are very close to an agreement.

The revenue numbers being thrown around concerning the SEC Network at its inception are staggering. If the distributor rates are even close to being correct, ESPN would collect almost $370 million off the 28 million satellite an cable customers in the SEC footprint.

No doubt SEC Commissioner Mike Slive will send a special thank you note to Texas A&M and Missouri along with their first revenue check.

When you add the states out of the SEC footprint, along with ad revenue, the number is expected to reach almost $640 million this first year.

SEC programs will split half of that, which is almost $23 million a year in media money just from the SEC Network. Currently the athletic programs are already getting $20 million a year in other media revenue.

ESPN has been selling the SEC Network as a bargain at $1.40 per month per subscriber, since the 4 most expensive regional sports networks all charge over $4.00 a month with nowhere near a tenth of the potential audience that the SEC Network will deliver from day one.

One side note: the negotiations with DirecTV are about the entire bundle of the ESPN family of networks -- including the Longhorn Network, which will be good news for the 40 Acres.

It will also be interesting to see how long Time Warner Cable holdouts if they are the Lone Ranger is refusing to carry the network.