DirecTV reaches an agreement with ESPN to carry SEC Network

The SEC Network may have just scored its winning touchdown.

ESPN and the Southeastern Conference announced Monday that satellite television monolith DirecTV has reached an agreement to carry the soon-to-be-launched SEC Network.

DirecTV was arguably the last significant distribution hurdle for the SEC Network to clear before it launches at 5 p.m. Aug. 14.

ESPN, which is producing and distributing the network, recently signed agreements with such carriers as Cox, Time Warner, Comcast, Charter and locally, EATEL, following earlier deals with AT&T U-verse and Dish Network.

“With opening day now firmly in sight, we are happy to count DirecTV, the country’s largest satellite provider, among our many distributors for the SEC Network,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. “The SEC is home to the most passionate fans in college sports, and I am pleased to have such a wide distribution by launch date for the benefit of SEC fans everywhere.”

DirecTV boasts more than 20 million subscribers. According to USA Today, that puts the network in 87 million households. Verizon FIOS remains the only significant holdout.

“With the launch of SEC Network just days away, we look forward to serving these legions of current and prospective students, alumni and loyal supporters with quality content and coverage nationwide,” said Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president of College Networks.

EATEL made an official announcement Monday that it will carry the SEC Network as well.

EATEL, which provides cable service in Ascension and Livingston parishes, will show the network as part of its Basic Plus and HD Classic packages.

“The SEC Network has been one of our most requested channels to date, so we are glad to be able to provide our customers with the programming they have been asking for,” said Toby DuBois, EATEL’s chief marketing officer, in a news release. “We have been working for several months to get this deal done with ESPN so that our customers could enjoy the extensive coverage of the SEC before the kickoff of the 2014 football season.”

EATEL negotiated with ESPN along with about 800 other regional cable systems through the National Cable Television Cooperative.

The SEC Network and its website will carry more than 1,000 conference sporting events during the 2014-15 athletic year, including 45 football games. LSU’s debut on the network will be Sept. 6 against Sam Houston State in Tiger Stadium.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter @RabalaisAdv.