What wasn't 100% set in stone were the following
- What programming package is needed to view the network outside of SEC states?
- If you want to watch the digital exclusives, is that possible right now or is WatchESPN required?
- And if it is required, is DirecTV working on it?
USA Today reported that SEC states, which I'm told will include all of Texas and Missouri and not just targeted areas in those two states, need the Choice package. A decision needs to be made for non-SEC states.
So the 80-90 million number being thrown around is that it is available to that many homes. Available. Key word. CBS Sports Network uses it when they say their network is available to 99 million homes. Available does not equal subscribers. The PR folks know this I assume and they aren't being misleading, but I think this is an item being conflated by a lot of writers. An example is that CBSSN is supposedly subscribed to by around 54 million of those 99 million homes. Pac-12 Networks are in 11 million subscribed homes out of 60 million & BTN in 57 million of 90 million available homes, per the Los Angeles Times.
Dish & AT&T set a high bar of making the channel available in national packages, but every programmer is free to negotiate their own deal, especially if you are a cable company that doesn't have a large footprint in SEC states or if you are going to be downsizing your footprint through merger/acquisition. DirecTV is closer to Dish than a cable company, but I am interested to see how they provide the channel, especially when you look at how they carry BTN to nearly all customers.
Re: WatchESPN - it was presented to me that WatchESPN had to be agreed upon to add the SEC Network. While it wasn't mentioned in the releases on Monday, I would not be surprised if terms around the product were agreed upon and waiting for signoffs.
What is more crucial re: WatchESPN is how quickly they can integrate DirecTV as an authenticated partner once an agreement is announced, if it isn't being worked on already. Usually when companies announce authentication agreements, like Time Warner with FOX Sports Go or AT&T with Pac-12 Networks as examples, the ability to log on to the app takes a few weeks to be integrated. I don't know if there is an authentication standard used by TV networks & pay TV providers or if each sets their own standards.
Last, but not least is that WatchESPN could be on hold until DirecTV finishes an agreement for all Disney properties. Not just the sports ones. All of them. Dish's agreement with Disney is what DirecTV is working towards completing.