Rejoice!(?) Ye shall have the Big Ten Network

This has been reported previously, but the Big Ten Network and Comcast remain close to reaching a deal that would bring Gerry DiNardo into the living rooms of cable subscribers across Bloomington.

Basically, the deal will work as such: Comcast will provide the channel on expanded basic for the upcoming football and basketball seasons. Then, it could move the channel to the more expensive digital package.

While the move doesn’t have much of an impact on the money IU receives from the BTN — that money, about $6 million last year — is guaranteed. But the financial boon should allow the Network to expand its programming; in fact, DiNardo, a former IU football coach, will have more of a presence this year.

Below the jump, you’ll find a more complete story. Because when you return from sitting outside a closed trial in Seattle what you want to do is jump into a story about corporate behemoths coming close to unsteady compromise.

A source close to Comcast’s negotiations with the Big Ten Network said Monday that the two sides are close to finalizing a deal.

A source close to the Big Ten Network’s negotiations with Comcast confirmed that a deal could be announced this week.

You only find the two above statements unremarkable if you did not follow the epic squabble engaged in by the cable provider and fledgling network over the past year.

This is about as close as the two have ever come to agreeing on anything.

The end to the struggle means that cable subscribers in Bloomington will once again be able to see a majority of Indiana’s football and basketball games next season.

Three of the football team’s games are already slated for broadcast on the BTN, which showed nine of the Hoosiers’ games last year.

It also broadcast 17 men’s basketball games (as well as both preseason games) and dozens of other events in which IU teams were involved.

So while the winner of the dispute is clear — the people who clamored for their regular dose of IU sports on the cable they already had — determining which competing company lost the most is more difficult.

The deal potentially makes the Big Ten Network available to 24 million more subscribers, or almost double the 30 million who already have the channel. That would increase distribution and advertising revenue for the BTN — which is a joint venture between the conference and Fox, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

However, Comcast is not required to broadcast the channel on all of its systems, only a majority of the ones located in the eight states containing Big Ten schools (which would double the number of subscribers in those areas from 6.5 million to 13 million.)

In those areas, including Bloomington, the channel will be included in the “expanded basic” level of service for the first year. After that, Comcast could move it to the more expensive digital package.

As part of the compromise, it appears the Big Ten Network will charge a significantly lower per-subscriber fee than it had hoped.

Originally, the Big Ten had wanted to charge $1.10, which was considered fairly high, by industry standards, for a start-up channel that, Comcast argued, did not have a broad audience.

Sources indicated on Monday that Comcast will probably end up paying closer to 60 or 70 cents.

Elizabeth Conlisk, a spokeswoman for the Big Ten, said “we do remain close to a deal with Comcast,” but that she would have no further comment until it was finalized.

Comcast spokesman Mark Apple had no comment.

14 comments

  1. Great for BTN being on Comcast, but Dinardo? My God, what a terrible choice. This guy is rude and ruthless, just like he treats his employees at Diangelos.

  2. Verizon Fios will have it beginning June 30th…Channel 85 has already been added to my favorites and currently it is like CNN or MSNBC or something.

  3. So, this is for Comcast subscribers everywhere, or just in Big Ten markets? I’m in Tennessee and currently have Comcast expanded basic, but have to go to various watering holes to get Big Ten Network. That gets old after a while.

  4. Okay, I read the rest of the story, and it appears that this deal will not make BTN available to me on my Comcast in TN. That’s a disappointment. Oh well, guess I’ll continue running up tabs at Buffalo Wild Wings in order to watch those IU-Western Kentucky, etc. battles ….

  5. Too late. I already dumped Comcast for AT&T U-verse, in large part because of the BTN. I highly recommend it. It’s cheaper, there’s more HD channels, and a better quality picture.
    Comcast can KMA.

  6. Eric, this article suggests that the BTN will be available in non-Big Ten states, either on a digital tier or a sports tier for $5. Cheaper than 4 hours at the BWW, that’s for sure.

  7. But will it be in HD? I’m betting it won’t be. I refuse to even watch a sporting event that’s not in HD.

  8. I tried to get ATT u-verse in Bloomington but they told me only in Indy for now. From what I have seen of U-Verse–it blows Comcast right out of the water and up onto a steamy stack of cow poo.

    DirecTV is a joke too. I’ve haven’t been jacked this much since I took that vacation to Compton.

  9. Do not some Bloomingulch folks have Uverse now? I thought some of you said you did? I am ready, willing, and able but what is the hold up? So many questions and still stuck with Comcast. Paying them is like support. I cannot wait until I make the last payment and then be able to give it to someone else (my kids…and Uverse)

  10. I live in Bloomington and have U-Verse, though it is still only available in some parts of town (basically the places where the existing phone lines can support the necessary added bandwidth). I’m sure they are working on expanding these areas. I’ve had U-Verse since January, and we switched almost entirely because of the Big Ten Network. Given their prices and channel line-up, there is no way I would go back to what is now Comcast.

  11. Thanks Brent. I have heard that before and am overjoyed to hear it again. I cannot wait. Comcast is not fun. Archaic at best.

  12. Well, Karl Malone here, and Karl Malone got BIG OL ELBOWS that are gonna drop on Big Ten Network if they don’t get it on cable.

    Karl Malone

  13. Fellas,

    I know U-Verse is available in Southern Bloomington, in the apartments and condos off South Henderson (which, ironically, runs past the Comcast office.)

    It’s also available in the area near Bryan Park.

    If you want, I can try to find a more detailed map of where it might be available.

    Chris

  14. FYI, I live on the west side of downtown Bloomington. I had U-verse installed as soon as it was available, about a month ago.

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