Big Ten Network update

Let’s get right to it. Will you be able to watch Indiana basketball and football (and soccer and swimming and field hockey) on your television this year?

Right now, the situation is bleak. That’s the feeling I have after meeting with representatives from the Big Ten Network this morning.

“I wouldn’t be sending the right message if I made it seem like this was definitely going to get done,” conference president Jim Delany said.

And later, “Each day that goes by without an agreement creates, more and more, a situation where people should think about getting DirectTV.”

DirectTV, of course, will carry the network.

It’s not fair to characterize the tenor of the meeting as being completely negative, though. Network president Mark Silverman made sure to point out, several times, that right now there’s a lot of public posturing going on by both sides of a major business deal.

“There’s a rhythm to these things,” Delany said.

And then later: “95 percent of negotiations are completed in the last 5 percent of the available time.”

It’s all incredibly murky right now. I asked Delany point blank if he’s prepared to withhold his network from Comcast — and its millions upon millions of viewers in the Big Ten market — if the cable company refuses to place it on basic cable instead of a sports tier that those who want the network could then pay for.

His answer?


But look: all this stuff is oozing of PR machismo spun by a whole lot of guys, on both sides, with a lot at stake. But nobody can honestly believe that depriving Big Ten sports fans of televised football and basketball games is really the way to go.




  1. Normally I would be against Comcast, and pulling for the Big Ten, but in this case, I am not. This is either pure ignorance, or pure arrogance on the part of Jim Delaney and Mark Silverman. This is a network that will carry 3rd and 4th tier games for the major sports. It will not be market specific (ie. I have to see as much Purdue programing as I do IU programing here in Bloomington), and will not cover the major events. I have the sports package on my digital cable, and would like to have The Big Ten Network as part of that package. However, in Bloomington alone, I would bet you would get less than 25% support for adding the Big Ten to the normal programing and raising the price because of it. That is just dumb. Maybe they need to do some research, see what the people in these markets really want. They might learn they need to walk before trying to run.

  2. I know they have jobs to do, but these people are idiots. Everyday college sports looks more and more like their professional counterpart.

  3. Mike P and Jones,

    You guys kill me. You actually think that the Big 10 and FOX are going to get into a 20-yr agreement worth 100s of millions of dollars without doing research? Please. I can’t believe people are actually admitting they are fans of Comcast. I have Comcast and they tell me what I want to watch — The Food Network, HGTV, Versus (whatever that is), Oxygen, ESPN5, MTV13…way too much crap that I am never going to watch, yet I’m still paying for it. I also love the fact that Mike P is calling Indiana Basketball 3rd and 4th tier. Wake up! And remember the Indiana and Purdue game that was not televised last year? Thank your friends at ESPNU for that one. With the Big 10 Network, I’m going to see all the games, Kelvin’s shows, probably midnight madness and IU football and soccer. This thing isn’t even on the air yet and you’re calling it a failure. Please. You guys should do more research!!!

  4. Cream and Crimson – You will not see what you think you will. “the Big Ten Network never gets the first choice of games, which is one of Comcast’s complaints with its programming. It gets the second choice of games three times, the third choice three times and the fourth choice six times.” they get 3rd and 4th pick, or third and 4th tier as main picks. I did not call IU basketball 3rd or 4th

    Guess what, IU-Purdue last year, would not be on regardless of the Big Ten network. ESPN gets to pick games before the network does, and puts it on what channel they want. Since I have digital cable, I have ESPNU.

  5. What if The Big Ten Network lowers its $1.10 per subscriber
    fee. Would Comcast then add it to the basic package?
    This question has not been answered.

  6. Mike P,

    ESPNU is one of the problems. ESPN began taking all of our “free games” and putting them on levels we couldn’t get. IU/Purdue basketball on ESPNU…IU/Minnesota football on ESPN 360. Don’t you see that the trend was already occurring…Channel 4 was losing their games because parent ESPN wanted to build other platforms and make you subscribe so you can make them more money. So why should the Big 10 continue to put out a product that from which a third-party (ESPN) reaps the cash. I applaud the BTN because it is making money for our schools, not ESPN.

  7. ESPN pays ALOT of money to the Big Ten for broadcast rights. I would say that in 20 years, what ESPN pays will far surpass what Fox is paying to make the network happen.


    It is good for the schools. Though you do realize that ESPN pays a lot of money for broadcast rights? I still don’t believe that everyone should have to pay for the channel, that those of us who want it, should pay for it. I will have it regardless of if it is on basic, digital, or if I have to get one of the dish systems to get it. I just don’t see forcing it into that spectrum.

    Is it on the basic Dish programing? Or do you have to get their sports package to get it?

  9. Just a clarification- Big Ten games will no longer be seen on ESPNU (though road, nonconference games might). The deal gives ESPN first or second choice to place games on ESPN or ESPN2, but they can’t put games on the “U” or 360.

    Without the Big Ten Network, you would have seen more games on these platforms and less on ESPN+

  10. Pure greed and bald arrogance, that’s what this all about. Arrogance on the part of the Big Ten Network and greed on Comcasts’s part. Does BTN really believe it will appeal to a majority of cable subscribers? I think not. Although I love the Big Ten (go Penn State!) and want and would pay for the BTN, I wouldn’t want to pay $1.10 extra per month for, say, the Pac Ten Channel or the Big 12 Network, if they existed (and who knows, they may some day).

    And for Comcast to want to put the BTN into a PPV package, much like MLB Extra Innings, and charge $4-$5 a month is plain outrageous. Pure greed.

    A good compromise, as I see it, is to put BTN on an expanded (not basic) cable tier and BTN HD on digital tier. Comcast does this with ESPN/ESPN2, and it works well for me.

    Stop the bickering, guys, and sit down like men (and women!) and hammer out a deal, keeping the fans and subscribers in mind. And do it soon, or DirecTV will gain a customer, and Comcast will lose one.

  11. Well, I just signed up for DirecTV. Comcast gambled and lost…at least one customer. Don’t mess with us Lions fans! Go JoPa! Go PSU!

  12. Just to clarify, the money made by the Big Ten Conference schools on athletic broadcasts goes to the Athletic department, not to academics.

    Do you really think it’s fair for every one of Comcast’s subscribers to incur the single-largest increase in rates so that this channel can be on the basic tier? I know we’re all big fans of the Big Ten, but let’s take a step back and think about it for a minute. To those who are not fans, which you must agree is the majority, this increase is no different than adding a SEC channel or a Pac Ten channel.

    This time Comcast is on the right side and I thank them. This channel belongs on our service, but it belongs in the Sports Tier.

  13. Question: I’ve been reading several of your responses and I think the BTN could be a great thing for all of our schools, but here is my question, I read on the BTN that if two games are playing at the same time, i.e. IU vs Purdue at 7pm and Penn St vs Iowa at 7pm and the Penn St game is the pick to air, then the cable/network channels will be offered an “overflow” channel to be able to watch the IU game. I can see Insight or Comcast having the overflow channel to be able to show the game that they want for the locals, but I called DirecTV and they said that they will carry the BTN on channel 220. So does that mean that they will have all of the overflow channels or none fo them?

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