As first reported by Sports Business Journal's Eric Fisher, USA Today has launched a digital hub for all things SEC sports with an intense focus on SEC football. The new site, SpanningTheSEC.com, is a collaboration between USA Today, their sister newspapers and Gannett television affiliates located in the South. It is unknown how the site will continue to function when Gannett's newspaper division and television division split next year.
USA Today will also use this new website to utilize it's deal with NeuLion Sports. NeuLion, which owns the streaming rights to over 170 NCAA sports properties, signed a deal with USA Today back in March which gave the newspaper rights to syndicate NeuLion's video onto their own sites. The streaming rights to games from those properties are locked up through subscriptions. For example, the Florida Gators' GatorVision service powered by NeuLion features full football game replays but requires you to pay $10 a month for 12 months.
Non-game content such highlights and coaches shows, on the other hand, is free of change and through NeuLion's deal with USA Today is now available to be syndicated on USA Today's websites including Spanning The SEC. NeuLion owns the streaming rights to 8 out of 14 SEC schools including:
- Texas A&M
USA Today and NeuLion will also co-produce two SEC weekly whip-around shows.
Combining these efforts with local news reports from local Gannett television affiliates, articles from local Gannett newspapers and blogs and trending content from For The Win; SpanningTheSEC.com could be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC Internet wars.
Cox Media Group also recently launched their own SEC football site, which we've previously reported on, known as TheFanBuzz.com.
We also can't forget to mention SECSports.com, the SEC's official website, which is being relaunched by ESPN and is being aligned with the SEC Network. It will feature videos from SEC Network shows, highlights from SEC Network sporting events, live streaming to SEC sporting events and writers such as Tony Barnhart. Even though SECSports.com will be the only sports site covering the SEC with live streaming sports rights, does this guarantee readership when there's so much other competition?
I'm also curious to see how USA Today and Cox Media Group market their brand new sites. If I was either of them, I would align with CBS in some type of way. They're the only other network with SEC football rights which is not associated with the SEC Network that could help bring some buzz to the site.