ESPN and the SEC Network are devising a battle plan to ensure that the SEC Network is carried everywhere by late August when the 2014 college football season kicks off with Texas A&M at South Carolina and Temple at Vandy. While AT&T UVerse and -- although it hasn't been officially announced -- Dish Network are both on board, there remains a lot of negotiating to take place between now and August with other cable and satellite providers.
So far some cable and satellite companies are fighting carrying the network, but their battle plans don't seem very well organized.
Today several Outkick readers emailed us the following DirecTV email response about the SEC Network, saying they had received it today from DirecTV:
"I understand you would like to know if SEC Network will be available on DIRECTV. We know how important it is for you to have access to this channel to keep your service.
After careful review, I have confirmed that DIRECTV has no current plans to carry the SEC Network. While we are unable to comment on future programming decisions, we are always reviewing our programming options to make sure we bring you the best possible TV experience. Thus, I have forwarded your request to DIRECTV Management for future consideration. We often make changes based on customer feedback like yours."
Now DirecTV customer service is saying on Twitter that they don't know who sent out an email saying that after careful review DirecTV has no current plans to carry the SEC Network.
That sounds pretty bad for DirecTV's organization.
So bad that within a couple of hours of these emails going out DirecTV was Tweeting, "We're still negotiating with SEC Network to bring this to your line up."
So either DirecTV has someone in customer service who hasn't been trained very well or this was an attempt to gauge an early reaction from SEC fans to a decision not to carry the SEC Network. If the early feedback on Twitter is any indication, DirecTV is going to be in for a beating if they maintain their anti-SEC Network posture. (There's always a third possibility, that Nick Saban jedi-mindtricked a DirecTV employee into sending the email, but that's just ridiculous. We all know Nick Saban's too focused on breaking down Florida Atlantic blitz packages right now to jedi mind trick anyone.)
I get asked all the time by SEC fans whether they'll be able to watch the SEC Network on their cable or satellite provider this fall. Given that Dish Network is pretty much on board with the SEC Network, if you're an SEC fan with a satellite service I'd avoid making any long-term commitment to DirecTV until DirecTV announces they're carrying the channel. Or, if you care about it that much, go ahead and make the switch to Dish.
Because this battle is going to last a while.
Given that DirecTV continues to refuse to carry the Pac12 Network, the satellite company doesn't really deserve the benefit of the doubt as to whether it will be carrying the SEC Network by the time college football season is here.
So be advised.
SEC fans are in for a wild ride over the next six months. But so far DirecTV's first attempt to stand up to the SEC Network went about as well as America's invasion at the Bay of Pigs.