Stricklin Talks About SEC-ESPN TV Contract

Scott Stricklin, Mississippi State's Associate Senior Associate A.D. for External Affairs, talks about how the new SEC-ESPN television contract will affect how much Mississippi State sports will be seen on television.

Specifically, due to the new SEC-ESPN television contract, how many of the Mississippi State football games will be seen on television?
"The way the tv contract agreements are done the conference of the host institution controls the tv rights for that game. In other words, any game that is played in an SEC stadium the league contract with ESPN and CBS governs those games. And those games are provided to its tv network partners, CBS and ESPN.

"This year, 11 of our 12 regular season games are going to be played in an SEC stadium. The only exception is the game at Middle Tennessee. That means we are guaranteed 11 games on tv right now. They are going to be televised through our deal with the league. And often-times when you have a non-conference game on the road it's picked up for television. So, you could have all 12 games on tv. Last year, I think we had 6 or 7 games televised. So, you are possibly talking about doubling the number of television appearances for our football program."

It seems like a lot of conferences now have tv contracts with ESPN.
"I think ESPN has some kind of agreement with every league. Where the SEC agreement is different is the number of appearances that are guaranteed and the amount of money being paid to the league by ESPN. Never before has every game that a league has control over been guaranteed to be televised. That's why the SEC deal is so revolutionary.

"This contract takes the SEC into the realm of the NFL. Every NFL game is being televised in some part of the country. Now, every SEC game, if it's being played in an SEC stadium, will be televised. The only exception to that is each team has the opportunity to pay-per-view one game a year if the school wants to do one. But the SEC and ESPN will be the ones to decide which game that will be."

Mississippi State doesn't do pay-per-view do they?
"It's been a number of years since we have had a pay-per-view game. Every situation is different but more times than not we would probably lean toward letting it be distributed to (ESPN and CBS). And the value of the exposure of this new contract is so great it's better to go ahead and let ESPN televise it."

What is the process used to determine which network will carry which SEC game?
"This year, like always, CBS has the first choice. They have one game on Saturday, although there may be a couple of weeks where they might do a double-header like in the past. ESPN will have the rest of the games to televise.

"There will be a prime-time game on ESPN, probably a prime-time game on ESPN2, a prime-time game on ESPNU, a regional game on ESPN-Regional. That game takes the place of the game Raycom televised at 11:30 Saturday morning in the past. It will actually kickoff at 11:21 this year, though. There is also a chance that ESPN or ESPN2 might do a prime-time double-header, maybe start one at 5 and another one at 8."

Isn't the 11:21 game syndicated to regular stations instead of networks?
"The regional game is syndicated to over-the-air stations, the local affiliates that you can get through your antenna."

There are 12 SEC teams and you mentioned five to seven slots available. Who carries the other seven to five games?
"ESPN has reached some agreements with CSS and FoxSports, so there will probably be a game every Saturday night (on those networks). And my understanding is ESPN is working to find other ways to make games available."

When will fans know what channels will carry which of the early season games?
"The league, at football media day (next Wednesday), is supposed to announced the first couple of weeks of tv selection. Once we get into the season, it'll be like in year's past where 12 days out they will set the tv schedule."

Will the networks determine the gametime for each game? If so, what times will games be played?
"Yeah. These are all central time. You will have a 11:21 kickoff ESPN regional game. There is some flexibility on that for a possible split broadcast where there are games going on at the same time. They would be regionalized based on where you live. There will also be a 2:30 CBS game. There might be an ESPNU game at 6:00, a ESPN2 game at 6:30. And there might be a 7:00 FoxSportsSouth game."

Won't the games also be seen on the internet as well?
"Yes, every game will be available on ESPN360. They will be seen live.

"Another thing that we are probably not too far away from is there will be video good enough to watch on your phone on ESPN.

"This is an interesting point. Last year, more people got college football scores from their phone than they did from their computer. As the ability to stream video on your phone becomes more available, then more people will be able to watch games on their phones."

What other sports will be on television due to this contract?
"All the league championships (for all the sports) will be on ESPN or ESPN2. All the league championship games (and matches)."

What about regular season games?
"Women's basketball will double their number of appearances. There will be a weekly Sunday afternoon game that will be syndicated on ESPN Regional."

What you mean by that is the local affiliates will be able to buy the rights to televise the game?
"Yes. Plus, all those games will be available on ESPN360 (on the internet). The reach of this contract is going to be phenomenal."

What about men's basketball?
"Every SEC conference game will be televised. There are 96 conference games every year in the SEC. Last year, there were between 45 and 55 that were televised. This year, all 96 of them will be televised. You will have a Tuesday night game on ESPN or ESPN2, a Thursday night game on ESPN or ESPN2, a Saturday game on ESPN or ESPN2. Plus, an ESPNU game on the weekend."

How will this tv contract affect baseball?
"Most of the SEC (regular season) baseball games (that will be televised) will be seen on ESPNU, FoxSportsSouth or CSS. The conference tournament championship (game) will be on ESPN or ESPN2."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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