SEC Network's Launch Spells End of Schools' Broadcast Rights, Pay-per-view

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, May. 13, 2013 12:00 am  

The University of Arkansas athletic program may be losing its in-school broadcast rights, but it's gaining a much more profitable national media partner with ESPN and the SEC Network.

ESPN and the Southeastern Conference recently announced that the launch of the SEC Network in 2014 would mean 1,000 live sporting event broadcasts per year.

That number represents about 450 games on TV and 550 more distributed digitally.

In all the coverage we’ve read, the launch is hailed as the beginning of something big for the SEC and member schools like the University of Arkansas.

What we haven’t read is that the launch of the SEC Network is also the beginning of the end for schools having their own video broadcast rights.

School-specific subscription services like the UA’s RazorVision won’t be providing live video of sporting events once the network is launched. The SEC and ESPN will hold the rights for those broadcasts.

Arkansas currently charges between $10 and $12.95 per month for RazorVision, which offers live and on-demand video from games (besides football and most basketball), coaches’ shows, press conferences and “insider” content.

Arkansas still would be allowed to show press conferences and content developed in-house, but a spokesman said it’s too early to tell if the service would remain subscription or not.

The launch of the SEC Network also means the end of pay-per-view football broadcasts. Arkansas-Jacksonville State was PPV last year at a cost of $34.95.

How do schools make up the revenue loss? Don’t worry.

While schools might be missing out on video subscription and pay-per-view revenue under the new deal, they don’t figure to be hurting for cash. Early estimates are that the SEC Network deal could generate more than $30 million for each school annually until the deal expires in 2034.

Under the current media rights agreements with SEC broadcast partners, member schools receive more than $20 million annually.

AT&T’s U-Verse is the only distributor signed on to carry the SEC Network so far.



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