Thursday afternoon, ESPN announced that Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks will carry the SEC Network from launch.
ESPN, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have reached an agreement for carriage of the SEC Network when the channel launches on August 14, 2014. The network will be available to fans and followers of the Southeastern Conference in all Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks markets ahead of the first SEC 2014-15 college football season game, Texas A&M vs. South Carolina, on August 28 at 6 p.m. ET. With the addition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the SEC Network will be available to approximately 60 million households nationwide.
News of the agreement was first reported by Sports Business Journal's John Ourand.
The list of cable and satellite providers without the SEC Network in the SEC footprint — which, remember, covers 12 states and 93 million people — is now very short. Charter Communications is the only top-five cable provider without a deal to carry the SEC Network, and only Charter, DirecTV, and Verizon (which offers cable subscription through its FiOS service) rate mention by Ourand as "big SEC-area distributors" in his report.
Of the three, DirecTV is the most important for local Gators fans, though FiOS is avaiable in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. And with all of its local competitors — Cox, DISH Network, AT&T U-Verse, and now Time Warner/Bright House — carrying the SEC Network, the pressure will surely be on DirecTV to secure carriage quickly, or risk losing loyal Gators to rivals.