SEC Network Preview: ESPN Opens Charlotte Facility to Media

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger has already stated that “the SEC Network will be one of the most successful cable launches in the history of paid TV.”

How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

ESPN executives welcomed members of the national and SEC media to the network’s newly expanded and renovated Charlotte, NC, facility yesterday to discuss some of the new network’s big programming plans and pull back the curtain an the technology that’s making it all possible.

ESPN has added over 2,800 square feet of studio space to its ESPNU Charlotte facility for SEC Network programming.

ESPN has added over 2,800 square feet of studio space to its ESPNU Charlotte facility for SEC Network programming.

As evident by Iger’s comments, Disney and ESPN are very bullish on the hopes for the SEC Network, which launches in just one week (Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. ET) and its hard to argue with the scoreboard. AT&T U-Verse, Bright House Networks, Comcast, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, Google Fiber, LUS Fiber, NCTC, NRTC, NTTC, PTC Communications, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable, and Wilkes Telephone are all on board.  And following Wednesday’s announcement of a distribution deal with Charter Communications, the network is poised to launch in over 90 million homes.

“Couldn’t be more excited in terms of what we’ve built and the momentum in the marketplace right now,” says Justin Connolly, senior vice president, programming for college networks at ESPN. “We have done an incredible job on the distribution side in the anticipation of launch.”

In Charlotte, ESPN has essentially doubled its technological and studio capabilities in the facility that also serves as home to ESPNU. Three new sets and 2,800 square feet of studio space have been added.

Technologically, the network completely links the conference and the network’s hub facility in Charlotte. Approximately 23,400 miles of fiber optic cable have been laid to connect all 14 SEC campuses with the SEC Network.
 That includes 96 newly connected sports venues. On average, each campus has laid 3.95 miles of cable and a total of 10 newly constructed control rooms have been designed, integrated, and constructed.

SEC Network will come roaring out of the gate with loads of studio and live event programming. The network launches next Thursday at 6 p.m. with a three-hour edition of SEC Now, the network’s news and information studio show covering all 14 institutions and 21 intercollegiate sports. SEC Network executives are promising 1,000 exclusive live events in year one, including 45 football games, 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 50 softball games, 75 baseball games, 25 soccer games, and 40 volleyball games.

Visit next week for continuing coverage of the launch of the SEC Network, including an inside look at the technological expansion of ESPN’s Charlotte facility, the on-site production of the traveling roadshow SEC Nation, and much more. Read up on how some of the school’s are preparing for the new network with our School Previews.

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