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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE MEDIA DAYS


July 18, 2013


Justin Connolly


HOOVER, ALABAMA

JUSTIN CONNOLLY: Good morning, everyone. I have to tell you that right now I can't help but feel like King Curtis. He is not royalty. For those of you who don't know rock trivia, he was one of the opening acts when the Beatles played Shea Stadium in 1965. Curtis was on the saxophone before yielding the stage. Thankfully my warmup act will not include the saxophone.
Instead I'm going to focus on the SEC Network. However, later today Coaches Miles, Richt, Saban and Franklin will take the same stage. They all command Paul McCartney status to me and there isn't a Ringo among them.
This week is a testament to the staff at the SEC and their warm hospitality. These gatherings are so impressive. Each SEC‑sponsored event, whether it's the conference championships, the spring meeting in Destin, and the various Media Days, provides a reminder of how outstanding the fans, schools and student‑athletes are in the SEC.
This event adds even more inspiration and enthusiasm to the prospect of launching a network dedicated solely to this conference.
Many in this room played a role selecting the pre‑season all‑SEC squad, which will be released today. While I did not have a vote myself, I am going to reveal my own 2013 unofficial pre‑season all‑SEC Network team.
You'll notice that no one on this squad is taller than four feet, weighs more than 38 pounds, or can run a 40‑yard dash in less than 10 seconds. Believe me I've timed them this past weekend. One of them actually can't even roll over yet, the guy on the far left there. Based on this guy's appetite, he may actually have Clowney status in 2032.
As you can see, my wife and I are well‑practiced in welcoming new additions. We've been busy over the past six years with that foursome. We actually frequently joke that the SEC Network will be our fifth child.
On a serious note, this morning I am pleased to announce that we have an official launch date for the network. Mark your calendars. On August 21st, 2014, at 7 p.m. eastern time, all of us will collectively welcome our new addition, the SEC Network.
8/21/14. We are 399 days, 9 hours, and roughly 43 minutes away from the network launch. We will use every second of that time to create, build, rehearse and tinker in the pursuit of greatness.
Our focus and mission remains consistent with what we outlined in Atlanta when we announced the network on May 2nd. We will bring the passion and excellence of the SEC on screen and serve fans anytime, anywhere.
Now, this week there have been references to the three phases of a football game: offense, defense, and special teams. I thought it apropos to borrow the three‑phase concept and speak about the three pillars around which we are constructing the SEC Network.
Those include content, distribution, and engagement. Success hinges on doing those three things well and executing against a lofty game plan.
The content pillar is broad and multi‑layered. This includes working collaboratively to schedule and produce content from studios and venues across the country. All editorial decisions, graphics, music, talent, that all falls into this category, along with anything that drives the overall on‑screen presentation and feel.
Live events will be the hallmark of the network. College triple‑headers each Saturday will anchor the season from week‑to‑week. We will elevate those games with an on‑campus presence and a two‑hour on‑site studio show from a different SEC location each weekend. Taking the network on the road throughout the fall will help enhance the connectivity with fans across the conference.
Beyond the gridiron, our fall schedule will feature a robust lineup of women's soccer and volleyball. Likewise, events representing the depth and quality of competition in every SEC sport will be featured across the network from season to season.
As Commissioner Slive mentioned in his Tuesday remarks, this week we will complete our first wave of technical site visits across each of the 14 SEC schools. This exercise is critical in developing a playbook to produce as many live events as possible.
In addition to the 450 live events we will do on television, we expect to surpass our original target of 550 annual digital events in the early years of the network.
We continue to develop our plan for studio shows from our production facility in Charlotte, North Carolina. Paul Finebaum has joined the SEC family for 2013. He will also be a featured part of the lineup on the SEC Network when we launch in 2014.
To borrow another football metaphor, we have great depth at the content position and we will continue to recruit and develop the best ideas available.
The second pillar is distribution. Having spent 10 years immersed in this side of the business for ESPN and Disney, it is a particular interest of mine.
In the distribution arena, success is the product of patience and persistence. Those are two virtues which are often in short supply. Patience is particularly difficult when the news cycle is momentary and we can keep tabs and keep score on an expedited or constant basis.
Negotiations in the pay television business continue to be deliberate and methodical exercises and we have great momentum on the distribution front.
Our agreement with AT&T U‑verse, the fastest growing multi‑channel provider in the U.S. remains a powerful and significant early achievement for the network.
We are now engaged in active and productive distribution conversations with most cable, satellite and Telco distributors across the country.
Last Friday our distribution team completed a deal with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, or the NRTC. This is a collection of several small telecommunications distributors dispersed throughout the country. While this deal will add 10s of thousands, not millions, of SEC Network subscribers, we appreciate and value distribution partners in all shapes and sizes.
More importantly, this is the second deal for the network and yet another positive sign of support and traction in the marketplace. We still have 13 months ahead of our launch.
Our distribution team is one of the most skilled in the business. It is impressive what that team has achieved thus far. I am optimistic, while staying patient, about the distribution horizon for the SEC Network.
The third pillar, or the special teams phase, is what I would call engagement. We must connect with the students, alumni, faculty, fans and partners to fuel the flames of SEC fan‑dom in every corner of this country. There is a broad cross‑section of current and future stakeholders, and we want to stoke their passion for the SEC.
Today one formal way to connect with us is to visit the website, www.getSECNetwork.com. I invite you to show your support by visiting the site and registering. There is a vast universe which we are seeking to engage. We want to use the network to activate the connection that people have with this conference. It begins in the 11‑state footprint across 14 institutions and 21 SEC‑sponsored sports.
There are hundreds of distributors and advertisers with whom we partner to ensure that we can tell and show thousands of events and stories which can be seen and heard by SEC fans nationwide.
There are also 10s of millions of diehard SEC fans, and they cover over 500 million screens, whether they be televisions, tablets, or smart phones, and we want to reach all of them.
We will significantly ramp up our engagement efforts when the football season kicks off in late August. That effort will continue through and beyond the launch of the network on 8/21/14.
I started this morning by comparing SEC Media Days to Beatlemania. Our engagement effort is about topping into 'SECmania,' accessing that passion through the SEC Network.
In closing, I wish each of the 14 SEC football teams good health and great success in the upcoming season. We now have 399 days, 6 hours, approximately 35 minutes until launch. We have plenty of work to do. I appreciate you being here this morning. I appreciate your support. I would only request that you enjoy the rest of the show.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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