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Breaking News: ESPN SIgns 15-Year SEC Deal, Knocks RAYCOM Out

Monday, August 25, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 12:43 PM, under , , ,

Athens, GA (Aug 25, 2008) - The Sports Business Journal is reporting that the Southeastern Conference has signed a $2.25 billion deal with ESPN for the rights to televise the SEC’s sporting events for the next 15 years beginning with the 2009-2010 school year. As part of this deal, RAYCOM Sports, which purchased Lincoln Financial/Jefferson Pilot in November of 2007, ostensibly to get their hands on a renewed syndication package after this season, is left dead in the water. But are they? It is quite possible that ESPN will subcontract the production of the games out to RAYCOM. Otherwise, with only the SEC package remaining, it is unclear how they will survive as they are after the completion of the current contract.

Former NFL Quarterback Dave Archer (left) and Dave Neal of Lincoln Financial Sports
Dave Archer, left and Dave Neal, before a 2007 Lincoln Financial broadcast
of 2007 SEC Football Game Between Kentucky and Georgia.
Photograph Copyright 2007 by Eye on Sports Media/The Cayuga Group, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Dave "Buzz" Baker of Lincoln Financial Sports
Dave "Buzz" Baker before a 2007 Lincoln Financial broadcast
of 2007 SEC Football Game Between Kentucky and Georgia.
Photograph Copyright 2007 by Eye on Sports Media/The Cayuga Group, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

The bottom line for RAYCOM? They spent a whole lot of money to get the SEC Football and basketball rights for one season. And Dave Neal, longtime broadcaster of SEC Football for JP/Lincoln/Raycom was quite prophetic before last year's SEC Championship Preview Show, produced and distributed by RAYCOM, when he told Eye on Sports Media, "Who knows what is going to happen with the next contract. Television has changed so much in the past 10 years and it will continue to change. What will happen is anybody's guess."

FLUGA2005_12
Color Analyst Larry Conley, Director Roger Roebuck, and Play-by-Play Man Tom Hammond before the Lincoln Financial/JP Sports 20th Anniversary SEC Men's Basketball broadcast on January 7, 2006.
Photograph Copyright 2006 by Eye on Sports Media/The Cayuga Group, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

The writing may have indeed been on the wall for RAYCOM when the SEC gave CBS Sports the guaranteed first pick of the weekly football game. By doing this, there had to have been some bone to throw to ESPN in their negotiations. Who would have thought it would be this though?

There are going to be some losers in this deal though: the SEC fan base that does not have access to ESPNU, where many of the games will be moved to, or the ESPN Regional Sports Network, which is based out of Charlotte, NC (ESPN created this network when they acquired Creative Sports some years back).

Update: Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that ESPN regional will manage the syndication to local stations.

Related Links

SEC signs $2B deal with ESPN to air games
Lincoln Financial Group Announces Sale of Television, Sports, and Charlotte Radio Properties

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