The SEC looks back as it prepares to launch

As the SEC prepares to kick off its seventh football season on Saturday, Front row Visit of the Vice President of Programming and Acquisition at SEC Network, Chris Turner, To take a look at the months without live sports due to the pandemic and how the SEC has responded and innovated.

After nearly 25 years at ESPN, Turner has worked closely with Congress since 2009 and has been an integral part of the network’s launch.

The SEC had six months without live sports until football is back last weekend, and the network’s first Saturday begins from college football tomorrow. Now that we’re here, what have I learned about the SEC and its viewers in the absence of live sports?
TurnerWe are definitely happy to bring back the live broadcast of the sport. While it’s certainly not surprising, the past six months have only confirmed that SEC fans and viewers on our network are incredibly excited. Their fan base has not diminished. We are not strangers to the lull in the schedule without direct events. This is an annual event every summer. But this time, it came so suddenly and without warning that it left fans eager to interact with their teams and schools.

Chris Turner speaks to SEC employees during a celebration of his fifth birthday in 2019.
(James Dockery / ESPN)

Viewers’ comments did not stop, and even during the long run of recorded programming and re-broadcasts, viewers were “suggesting” that we show more or less of this. Thank goodness for their passion. Without them, the network would not be as successful as we used to be.

Now that we’re here, in what people used to call “Christmas Eve” before soccer started tomorrow, SEC Network is looking at a whole list of studios and original shows, a whole day of football on Saturday, and two new appearances appearing at the end of this. the week. This time it didn’t slow us down a little.

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The pandemic stopped live sports during the SEC Men’s Basketball Championships in Nashville. Tell us about that day and the following days for your team. How quickly did you have to adapt?
TurnerWe have gone from preparing for a full day from the men’s basketball tournament to a complete halt. Our studio team stayed on the air from Nashville to cover the news of the moment and get feedback. In moments like these, I think it’s important to use your experience to guide your next step. And that’s exactly what we did. After the summer acquisitions had been programmed since the network’s launch, we felt we could buy time for ourselves by going to school for 14 days. Once that was completed, we had time to assess and plan for the long term that was to come.

The creativity shown by the entire team was outstanding. Programming, Production, Marketing, Sales, Social … everyone has done a great job with innovation and creative problem solving. I am very proud of the entire team.
Chris Turner, Senior Vice President of the Network in Programming and Acquisition

Creativity has been critical for the past six months. How did your team have to innovate to program the network?
Turner: The creativity shown by the entire team was outstanding. Programming, Production, Marketing, Sales, Social … everyone has done a great job with innovation and creative problem solving. I am very proud of the entire team. For the programming team specifically, we worked hard to make the rebroadcasts and recorded shows look brand new. Maintaining our connection with our fans was key, and we used our digital assets to do so. For example, being able to continue programming in the studio from home and entering the digital and social space with our performances was critical. The production team pivoted very quickly and were the first to really dive into the issue of “How do we serve our fans from home?” The content they created proved just how diverse and intelligent our network is.

. . . We have to come out on the other side of this learning how to do things differently. More efficiently. – Turner

The programming department works closely with many different teams across the company. Looking back at the past six months, is there anything you would take with you from a strategy and / or workflow perspective going forward?
Turner: I was on a Zoom call early on as new technologies that would enable us to produce and edit content from home are being discussed. I commented then that if nothing else, we should come out on the other side of this learning how to do things differently. More efficiently. I think we’re seeing this increase now with the home broadcasters and school production initiative expanding. In short, we used to see people in their homes giving interviews. While it’s always nice to have everyone around the same desk, we can accomplish our goals without it.

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Your team has put together marathons, acquisitions, programming stunts, and more. Do you have a favorite programming piece or gimmick from the past six months?
Turner: I really enjoyed watching some of the seniors Stocked Movies. The franchise dates back before the SEC, and watching them serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come in our relationship with SEC. I started working with the league in 2009 and was a part of creating and launching the SEC network. I hope everyone has a chance to reflect on all the good work we have done and continue to do to highlight the achievements of student-athletes, promote the conference and serve our audience.

SEC Network Studios are ready and ready for the first weekend of SEC football.
(James Dockery / ESPN)

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