SEC Network to provide huge boost for smaller sports

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By CAROLINE GAZZARA
College Contributor Network

The new Southeastern Conference Network just launched. Focusing on all things related to sports in the SEC, it opens the doors to many possibilities in terms of viewership, interest and revenue.

Most know that football is the dominant sport in the SEC. At Alabama, football brought in over 88 million to the university in 2013, with a net profit over 47 million. That figure not only paid for all of the program's expenses, it also paid for most of the university's sports and still gave back money to the school.

Alabama is not alone, many other SEC schools rely on their football revenue to help pay for other programs. Soccer, tennis and golf are all good sports, but they don't match the money that is used to keep the program going.

And this is where the SEC Network comes in. No longer are games, matches and meets un-televised. Instead, almost all events are available either on-demand through SEC Plus or playing live on the network.

Of course, football will be shown on the network but all the other smaller sports will have their airtime. The new network is even beneficial to the non-profit sports of each school. Sports like women's soccer don't get much fan attendance because either it's not well publicized or available to attend. With the new network, most matches are available to watch.

In previous years, ESPN would pick up and cover some of the many events happening throughout many of the schools in the SEC. The downside to this was that there are hundreds of schools in the country competing in events, so there was never enough time or manpower to cover everything. With more specified networks, more sports can be picked up and covered for fans to see.

But it's not only far away fans that are gaining from this new network. Students and local fans are able to view away games at the touch of their remote. It works well to boost viewership and produce money for those sports that aren't moneymakers.

Aside from the fans being able to watch their favorite sports, the network also helps bring in revenue. Each SEC school will get a portion of the profits the network makes. The incoming profits will help each school fund their athletic department.

The new network joins the likes of the Pac-12 and Big-10 networks. This makes it the third network to specialize in conference-only sports, which is something that ESPN cannot offer. The other two networks have seen great success from showing conference-only shows. This also could lead to other conferences developing their own networks.

With the expansion of specialized networks, fan interest will also increase. No longer will one worry about what kind of sporting event is on television. Instead, there are a multitude of sports that most people never usually see. People who love to watch golf but rarely get to see tournaments on T.V. are finally able to see college golf either live or on tape-delay. The same goes with swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and rowing.

Though not every event will be covered, most will be. High-profile games and matches will be either televised live or on tape-delay. Most conference match-ups will be shown. Non-conference games may be recorded but it depends on the schedule.

The new SEC Network is one of the few opportunities in recent years that has the chance to display college sports at a whole new medium. No longer will fans and sports suffer from lack of publicity. They can now tune into the network and watch every sport at the touch of a remote. It's one of the newest, most successful ways that college sports are getting to the public.


Caroline Gazzara is a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Sports Journalism. Her passions are Alabama athletics and soccer. Follow her on Twitter: @CarolineGazzara
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