At 5pm central time on Thursday, the SEC Network will officially launch. Will you be able to see it? Chances are you will, because the teams at ESPN and the SEC have been busy closing deals left and right. During a high powered Wall Street conference call last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the SEC Network was the "best cable channel launch in history."
So, cheers! Savor a glass of scotch worth more than most homes in Detroit, expensive-shoe-wearing dealmakers. You done good.
But there are still a handful of holdouts. Those bitter enders that are going the Japanese-soldiers-in-the-jungles-of-Guam route, refusing to believe that it's time to surrender. On Friday, the SEC gave us an update via their official Twitter feed and called out the three most significant problem children:
It’s August 8th. Does your provider have a deal with @SECNetwork? http://t.co/43HADrDgBK pic.twitter.com/NZlA3x0Ti2— SEC Sports (@SEC) August 8, 2014
Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Not that we invented the idea of putting lists into separate columns here at GBH HQ, but lookit:
The official SEC release included two providers that we haven't been tracking in Mediacom and Cablevision, so we've gone ahead and added them above. I suppose that means we're imitating now.
Here's the latest information on each member of the trio of sadness.
Impact: Verizon is undoubtedly the most important remaining provider from an A&M perspective, with a large number of customers in the greater DFW Metroplex. Verizon also has notable coverage elsewhere in the SEC, particularly in Florida. Tampa and a handful of other markets are notable.
Prospects: Not ideal. Verizon will definitely not have SECN at launch on Thursday. Verizon may carry it by the time Texas A&M plays South Carolina on August 28th, but is that a risk you want to take? Naturally, Verizon is trying to convince customers to remain patient as negotiations continue. [Warning: Actual journalism-like substance ahead!] An official who is privy to the thoughts of SEC leadership has advised customers, "If I had VerizonFIOS, I would be considering other options." Which is to say, Verizon customers, don't pull a Donald Rumsfeld. Plan your exit strategy well ahead of time. Like, now.
Impact: It turns out Cablevision isn't just a 30 Rock reference. They're a real company that dominates the NYC region, including parts of Connecticut and New Jersey. While not SEC Country, there are a substantial number of SEC alumni and fans in our country's largest metropolitan area. And Mike Slive and the SEC would love nothing more than to spike the football by getting full carriage in an area that B1G Commish Jim Delany sees as B1G turf (Because Rutgers, you see).
Prospects: Unknown. But this is practically in Bristol-based ESPN's backyard, and Cablevision will be paying the much cheaper out-of-footprint rate. That's reported to be only $0.25 per subscriber per month for other providers.
Impact: It's not trivial, with key parts of SEC Country at the mercy of Mediacom. In Missouri, coverage areas include Columbia - where Mediacom is the on-campus cable provider at Mizzou! - and Springfield. Rural parts of southern Georgia and the cities of Columbus and Albany are Mediacom territories. Additionally, the Florabama coast is affected in and around Mobile and Pensacola. Finally, Mediacom has a solid presence just north of Huntsville, Alabama. Now, GBH is not exactly a high powered corporate consultancy (yet), but we'll offer this insight free of charge to Mediacom executives: Denying people in Alabama and Georgia their SEC Football is an extraordinarily bad idea.
Prospects: Not ideal. Mediacom will not have SECN at launch, and negotiations are ongoing. Last week, a Mediacom spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We are working hard to get things finalized so football fans will have one less thing to worry about." Our take: If Mediacom customers don't want to worry, they should dump Mediacom for a provider with an SECN deal.
While we all know the first football game won't air on SECN until August 28th, SECN opening night on Thursday will still be pretty special. Viewers will enjoy the premiere of the SEC Storied film "The Stars Are Aligned", airing at 8pm CDT. If you have Verizon, Mediacom, or Cablevision, you won't be able to see it. Here's the trailer.
(Texas A&M representative Governor Rick Perry demonstrates his political acumen, saying "Talking about Texas A&M is always fun", in complete denial of the Dennis Franchione era.)
If you're looking to switch providers before Thursday, here's how to contact DISH today.