Many sports fans in Knoxville and East Tennessee will get their fix of SEC sports on cable and satellite television like never before.
ESPN announced Tuesday it has reached an agreement with Comcast and DirecTV allowing both carriers to offer ESPNU and ESPN 360.com.
That means the 15-year deal struck Aug. 25 between the SEC and ESPN suddenly has more meaning for households with cable or satellite television in the Knoxville metropolitan market.
"ESPNU and ESPN360.com have been growing in popularity due to the dynamic live-event programming we've been adding to them, and we are thrilled Comcast will offer them to their huge fan base,'' said David C. Preschlack, executive vice president of Disney and ESPN Media Networks.
"ESPNU is committed to college sports programming 365 days a year, and this move to DirecTV's 'Choice' package allows better access for college sports fans nationwide.''
Under the terms of the new agreement, ESPN or ESPN2 will show a minimum of 20 SEC football games this season, and there will be a minimum of another 13 SEC football games shown on ESPNU, including the SEC game of the week in the prime time Saturday slot.
Late-night football fans will also receive games from virtually every major conference that ESPNU shows at most all hours.
Additionally, ESPNU broadcasts college softball, baseball, lacrosse and hockey, among other Olympic and non-revenue sports. In all, live 550 events and 22 NCAA champiionships.
In addition, every SEC men's conference basketball game (except those broadcast by CBS) will be available on one of the ESPN channels.
"What makes a conference great is its depth and breadth,'' said UT coach Bruce Pearl, who resides in Knoxville's Comcast market. "ESPN is synonymous with college basketball, and this is going to help us to build our brand of SEC ball.''
As if the ESPN cable packages aren't enough, Comcast cable customers who subscribe to Comcast Internet can go to the Comcast.net home page and stream even more collegiate sports coverage into their living rooms at no added cost.
There will be 3,500 live sporting events streamed each year by ESPN360.com.
Tuesday's agreement increases ESPU's reach from 24 million homes to 46 million.
Comcast cable reaches 150,000 homes in the Knoxville metropolitan area and 250,000 in the East Tennessee area, which includes the Tri-Cities.
Cable providers Charter Communications and Knology already offer ESPNU in the Knoxville area.