HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Fan Lee Massengale is already worried about Georgia's game with Troy, even with Clemson and South Carolina coming up first.
Massengale's not sure if his cable provider will be carrying the SEC Network, which broadcasts the Sept. 20 contest with the Trojans.
Massengale, who's been following the Bulldogs since the days when Fran Tarkenton was the quarterback in the late 1950s, is among the Southeastern Conference fans waiting to see whether they'll be able to watch their teams at home. The SEC Network launches on Aug. 14 and will carry 45 football games this season.
"I want to see that game" with Troy, said Massengale, a retired family and youth counselor from Arcadia, Florida, who attended SEC media days on Wednesday. "I'm hoping and praying we'll get it."
He's not alone. Cable and satellite providers like DISH Network, Cox Communications and AT&T U-Verse have signed deals to carry the league's network. ESPN and the SEC are still in talks with other major distributors, including DirecTV and Comcast, Massengale's provider.
Justin Connolly, ESPN's senior vice president in charge of programming for college networks, said it's not unusual for such talks to go down to the wire.
"We're confident about the conversations, and our confidence is really based on the demand that's out there among SEC fans," Connolly said. "Long negotiations. Complicated issues. A lot of times these things don't come down until the very end."
But for fans like Massengale, SEC football isn't about business. It's more important than that.
The league that has won seven of the last eight national championships in football is also a huge TV draw. It helps that five of the 11 states with SEC teams don't have NFL franchises. The Alabama-Texas A&M and Alabama-Auburn games both drew more than 13.5 million viewers last season. The SEC championship game between Auburn and Missouri had an audience of 14.35 million.
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