“100 percent sure Comcast deal won’t get done”

The picture is looking darker and darker for the Big Ten Network making a deal with the major cable companies before the start of football season.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Fox/Big Ten Network executive Bob Thompson said Thursday that he is “100 percent confident” that no deal will be struck with Comcast by Sept. 1.

“Having been through 15 of these (launches), I have a feel for the way things go,” Thompson told the Tribune. “There really has been no negotiation for a month.”

Comcast gave me this written statement from Comcast Midwest Division President Bill Connors in response to Thompson: “Our first priority is to protect our customers and to make the Big Ten Network available in the fairest way to all our customers, regardless of any Fox/Big Ten marketing campaign. From the beginning, we have said we would like to carry the Network and will make it available immediately as part of our Sports and Entertainment Pack, along with other valuable sports programming such as the NFL Network. We simply can not allow the Fox and the Big Ten to burden all of our customers – the vast majority of whom have no interest in Big Ten sports – with a $13 Big Ten tax.”

With Comcast taking over cable service in Bloomington in January, the immediate question in B-town is about the current provider, Insight, and what it is going to do. It has appeared in recent months that Insight will follow the lead of Comcast, which now makes it look like IU’s early season football games won’t be available on local cable. The Hoosiers will have their first and third games, both at home, broadcast on the Big Ten Network (vs. Indiana State on Sept. 1 and vs. Akron on Sept. 15).

Indiana’s second game, at Western Michigan on Sept. 8 is on ESPNU, which is also not available on Insight’s expanded basic cable, unless you purchase the sports tier. That’s the same tier that’s at the heart of the disagreement with the BTN, with Comcast and Insight wanting to put the new network on their sports tiers and the BTN demanding it be put on expanded basic, not on the sports tier.

Here are the words of Insight CEO Michael Wilner from a video on Insight’s web site (link here) devoted to pressuring the BTN to accept placement on the sports tier: “Sports networks are very expensive and we think customers should have the right to choose. We’ll carry the Big Ten Network with other sports channels like the NFL, CSTV and ESPNU as soon as the Big Ten Network is willing to give you a choice.”

That sounds just like Comcast’s position.

5 comments

  1. Lets look at a more positive subject like this excerpt from a Peegs interview with Rick Greenspan:

    “The south, what I would call the south end zone on the court, is almost exclusively students and the band, absent some seats for the media, and we’re looking to see if we can move the media up a little bit — still in the lower bowl — but up a bit so that becomes a continuous section wrapping around to midcourt where the students sit. The design of the building, the fact that it’s not a true bowl, makes a little bit of that continuity challenging, but I think we’ll do some things differently with how those seats get allocated so that perhaps there is some continuity when it comes to the students that sit in that section as we go through the year instead of rotating them out.”
    ~Rick Greenspan

    Sounds to me that they finally will get it right as far as student seating goes. Not sure if he is thinking first come, first served in that section or some other process.

  2. This situation can only be described as absurd.

    IU changes the start times of its first two home football games, both originally slated to begin at 6 pm, to accomodate the Big Ten Network’s programming schedule, and the university is now left merely inconveniencing the fans who are planning on attending the game.

    These new times (8 pm for the season opener on Sept. 1 and Noon on Sept. 15) may put a damper on travel plans for people who have a few hours’ drive to Bloomington from around the state.

    The first (complete with a time extending fireworks display) could put these folks home in the wee hours of the night, maybe even warranting a $$$ hotel stay $$$ and the second (featuring Varsity Club Day, Band Day, Frosh Family Weekend, etc.) has people leaving home much earlier than perhaps intended when the tickets were purchased and likely missing out on these surrounding activities.

    And for what? So that Indiana people staying home who have Comcast or Insight as their cable provider (a good portion no doubt) can watch the game on a newly created network designed specifically to cater to their area’s demands?

    NOPE. What a laugher.

    HT’s own,
    RYAN

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