It’s a near certainty every time the Neilsen ratings are announced after a college football weekend: Some of the biggest ratings each network does for game coverage and pregame coverage comes from cities in the Southeast, where the SEC is king.
The league that routinely produces the best football also has the most rabid fan bases, among them Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida and Texas A&M, each of whom draw packed houses for their annual spring games.
And the league will now join the Big 10 and Pac 12 among those with its own network: The SEC Network, which launched Thursday at 6 p.m.
Read on for more about the network’s programming, talent roster and more:
1. ESPN Owns the Network in Conjunction With the Conference
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 14, 2014
The network is run by a partnership between ESPN and the league It’s a similar setup to that of the Big 10 Network, which is operated jointly by the conference and Fox Sports. The SEC Network has a deep roster of ESPN talent, headlined by legendary play-by-play broadcaster Brent Musburger, who narrated the network’s intro on Thursday.
2. The Network Is Headquartered in Charlotte
— Taylor Tackett (@TaylorTackett1) June 24, 2013
The network’s studios are in Charlotte, North Carolina, a long drive or short flight from most of the network’s 14 members and a short flight from ESPN’s headquarters in Connecticut.
Though Charlotte offers a home in the South, it’s far more known as ACC country than SEC country. There are four ACC members in the Tar Heel State and no SEC members. (Check out a map of the conference’s footprint in the tweet above.)
3. The Network Set up a Website to Show Fans Where to Find it on the Air
To find out if your cable provider has the network, you can go to getsecnetwork.com.
The network is carried on AT&T U-Verse, Charter Communications, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner and Xfinity.
The website has a page where you can “demand” that your cable provider pick it up if you don’t already have access to it.
4. Tim Tebow Is the Centerpiece of the SEC Network’s Talent Roster
Few players in SEC history (or college sports history overall) have had a bigger following than Tim Tebow. So when the former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion’s NFL career sputtered last year, the network was quick to offer him a spot as an analyst.
Tebow appeared on the network’s inaugural showing of SEC Now Thursday night and will be a staple of the network’s football coverage.
5. The Network Plans to Broadcast 1,000 Games in its First Year
According to a profile by Bleacher Report, the network has an ambitious plan to broadcast 1,000 games in its first year.
ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions talked to Bleacher Report about the plan:
Without a doubt, what you see a year from now, what you see six months from now, is going to be different from what you see on there right now today.
Game coverage starts Friday, and it’s not the type of broadcast you usually expect to see in August: A Kentucky basketball game.
The Wildcats are on an international tour in the Bahamas, and their game Friday at 1 p.m. will be televised live.