Comcast Employs Fake SEC Fans to Fight SEC Network, Apologizes
Oh, boy, get ready, the battle over the SEC Network is about to get heated.
This weekend I got multiple emails about an anti-SEC Network ad that's currently airing. The most detailed came from Brandon M. who wrote as follows:
"I live in Atlanta and receive my cable service through Comcast. As you know, they do not yet have an agreement to carry the SEC Network.
While watching tv this weekend, I saw an ad that called out the SEC and ESPN for trying to "Double tax" SEC fans by charging cable companies millions to carry SEC games moving forward. The ad portrayed an older lady who was excited when her grandson was accepted by a Southeastern Conference School. She went on to talk about how the family loved watching games every weekend. She then said (paraphrasing) "now the SEC and ESPN want to charge cable companies millions to show these games". The ad ended with the tag line "Stop the double tax".
The ad directed viewers to the site at www.secfansfirst.com.
Funny thing is, the site has been shut down. A Google search returns a link to a YouTube channel under the same name that has no content."
That's interesting. Nothing shows up on the site unless you Google cache search it and then the following headline is emblazoned across the top of the page:
"Stop the SEC Fan Tax!
The SEC Network, a new channel broadcasting SEC sports content and produced in partnership with ESPN, will launch at the start of football season in August. The SEC Network would be one of the most expensive channels of its kind and would force cable and satellite TV customers to pay over 1.5 billion dollars over the next five years in their monthly bills â just to watch some of the same big games they currently get for free. We are fighting the exorbitant costs being demanded by the forthcoming SEC Network.
Sign up below to receive information about how you can help make sure ESPN & SEC Network put fans first."
Along with a link to the below commercial, which presently has 18 views, meaning it probably isn't supposed to be public:
So who is behind this campaign? And why are they running TV ads telling people to go to a website that has been stripped clean? Was it supposed to be a threat or negotiating ploy? Basically, what's the story here?
Despite the claims on the site, we know this campaign sure as hell isn't being run by SEC fans.
The site claims: "SEC Fans First represents students, alumni, faculty, coaches, and the communities of the Southeastern Conference. We are passionate fans of the SEC and its teams. We love the rivalries, the traditions, and the success of our conference. We are fighting the exorbitant costs â hundreds of millions of dollars every year that fans would have to pay â being demanded by the forthcoming SEC Network."
Because there are tons of SEC fans who want less SEC sports on television and want to fight the conference for trying to bring them more coverage of their favorite teams. There isn't a single SEC fan on earth who is actually opposed to the SEC Network. And even if there was do you think they'd have the money to mount a full-scale media campaign against the cost of the network?
This is corporate money that's trying (very poorly) to make it look like it isn't corporate money.
And we know it isn't Dish Network or AT&T Uverse paying for the campaign since both of those companies are already carrying the SEC Network.
So have Comcast, Time Warner and DirecTV joined forces to fight the SEC Network while pretending that they are a fan-driven campaign?
That's what it sure looks like. (Or is it just Comcast/Time Warner trying to include satellite companies to make us think DirecTV is involved too?)
Buckle up, kids, it's about to get ugly out there.
In the meantime, maybe it's just me, but if I was trying to get a $45 billion merger approved, I don't think I'd be setting up fake fan campaigns. Doesn't exactly look trustworthy.
Update, the website was registered by ASGK Public Strategies, a "media communications specialist" according to their website.
One of their top clients?
Game, set, match.
And the fake Granny didn't even have a Southern accent. Whose grandma doesn't have a Southern accent?
Comcast has issued the following response to Outkick's request for comment:
"We are currently engaged in good faith negotiations with ESPN on carriage of the SEC Network and are optimistic we will reach an agreement with them. This campaign was not authorized to be implemented and does not reflect the current state of our negotiations. We apologize for any confusion."
John Demming, Executive Director of Corporate and Financial Communications, Comcast Corporation.