SEC Network begins its digital rollout

SEC Network homepage
SEC Network homepage

The SEC Network, which launches as a channel on Aug. 14, will be a cross-platform network from Day 1 – meaning that the digital and television elements had to be developed in complete coordination and complement. To say that is one thing. To build it is another. To do it, teams of people across multiple ESPN divisions, departments and locations – including Technology, Digital Media, Programming, Production and the SEC Network, worked over many months.

SEC Digital mobile experience
SEC Digital mobile experience

“We faced significant challenges to achieve what we needed,” said Chris Turner, senior director, SEC Network. “We had to rebuild the online home for the conference and its schools, while also developing a digital extension and complement to the SEC Network channel, integrating that with WatchESPN and enabling the production and delivery of more than 550 live sports events at a high quality, across 14 campuses, dozens of venues and multiple sports.”

ESPN’s Remote Operations team worked with teams in Transmission, Technology and each of the 14 member schools to identify, detail and implement 14 different solutions to maximize existing facilities, tools and platforms, while adding new infrastructure and helping build fiber connectivity between the schools, dozens of athletic venues and ESPN’s production facility in Charlotte, N.C.

Meanwhile, the Technology division had to expand the digital distribution and encoding capabilities to manage hundreds of more live digital-exclusive events (on top of what ESPN already delivers). By implementing new systems, software and workflow, they provided scale and flexibility that dramatically that nearly quadrupled capacity. Not only does this support the SEC Network, the conference and the schools, it also provides benefits to other ESPN video platforms heading into the future.

In parallel, the SEC Network team, digital media and product development teams were creating a new, next-generation website that would look great across any device a fan uses and giving SEC Network subscribers access to the network 24/7. It combines the two core properties:
· the home for the SEC conference and schools, featuring highlights, scores, news, announcements from the schools and more.
· the home (on computers) for the 24/7 linear simulcast of SEC Network and the hundreds of digital-exclusive SEC sports events. The SEC Network and digital-exclusive events are delivered through WatchESPN on tablets and mobile phones).

Throughout, a new content team for and have been working to develop, coordinate, create and curate original content, working closely with each of the schools to utilize existing content and creating new content.

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