In every state in the Southeastern Conference there is a radio network that carries all the games for flagship universities, selling advertising and providing revenue for radio stations and state universities. That’s all about to change.
In the University of Tennessee’s case, that’s the Vol Network that is presently hosted by Bob Kesling.
The SEC has signed a 20-year deal with ESPN that will put virtually every SEC football game on television. The ability of fans to watch the all the games on TV is expected to cut into the radio audiences for games that have traditionally not had the marquee appeal to get onto CBS or ESPN.
Universities will get a windfall in television revenue and should not be hurt by the move. But the football networks that have established fans are likely to suffer. The television deal will go into operation in 2014. ESPN will have to negotiate with cable systems and satellite companies to get on the air, but fan demand will likely force the issue. They expect football fans to call providers demanding their SEC games, much like the campaign back in the 1980s when MTV asked fans to contact cable companies demanding “I want my MTV.”
What is not known is the effect the available viewing will have on attendance at actual games. Will fans continue to go to Neyland Stadium, and buy season tickets, if every game in available on television?