SEC media days storylines -- No. 4

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 10, 2014 

SPORTS FBC-SECMEDIADAY 5 CS

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive talks to media during SEC football media days in Hoover, Alabama, Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

GERRY MELENDEZ — MCT

Editor's note: SEC media days begin July 14. Every year, a theme seems to emerge, whether it's a tiff between coaches or a cause taken up by commissioner Mike Slive. But with less than a week until it arrives, what are the top storylines entering the annual media event? Ryan Black gives his take, counting down from 10-1.

No. 4: The SEC Network predicament

On May 2, 2013, ESPN and the Southeastern Conference announced they had reached a 20-year agreement and rights extension to showcase the league in multiple ways. The most notable aspect of this was a television network devoted exclusively to the conference, aptly (and obviously) dubbed the SEC Network. On the day of the announcement, it was noted AT&T U-Verse had already signed on to carry the network.

In the year since, striking arrangements with other major providers has proceeded at a snail's pace. Dish Network came on board in March, but it was the only major nationwide provider to sign on before Wednesday's announcement that Cox Communications had finally come to terms to add the channel. As we close in on the SEC Network's launch date Aug. 14, the lack of progress with other providers becomes more and more conspicuous. Perhaps most notable is that ESPN is still in talks with giants like Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and DirecTv.

Though the going has been slower than expected, SEC commissioner Mike Sliver has stayed the course, never doubting that the SEC Network will have widespread distribution by the time it launches. Sure, when he takes the podium for his annual "state of the conference" address to open media days next week, he'll touch upon the recent agreement with Cox as well as continue to tout the contracts the SEC already has with other providers.

Yet the fact it's taken so long for other high-profile providers to wrap negotiations is a rare sign of vulnerability for the conference.

It won't be lost on those in attendance next week, either.

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