Monday, June 18, 2007

Big Ten Network: Not Everybody Wants It

Doors to cable viewers are not swinging open like the Big Ten planned. The conference's Big Ten Network is scheduled to go on air in August, but the league is finding it difficult to swing a deal with cable heavyweight Comcast, with Time Warner Cable is also hesitant to add the network.

According to the New York Times, Comcast is developing a campaign that will attempt to prove that the network is too expensive and too provincial to be broadly distributed.

"I have no doubt that the Big Ten will try to rile up their fans and alumni to say that big bad Comcast is denying their content to Big Ten fans and alumni," David Cohen, an executive vice president of Comcast, told the Times' Richard Sandomir.

The root of this dispute could be traced to early discussions about the network, when Comcast was approached about becoming the Big Ten's partner. The cable operator's view of the network was limited in scope, and the Big Ten found a more willing partner in Fox, which will run and own 49% of the operation.

The Big Ten's problems don't end with Comcast, which is the leading provider in the conference's eight states. Time Warner Cable, with the second-most subscribers in the Big Ten markets, is taking a similar position to Comcast's.

"I'm not confident of anything right now," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. "All I'll say is I have a hard time seeing many more offerings with more appeal than ours."

The Big Ten's marketing reach is extending online. It has been adding videos like the one above to YouTube. Thus far, eight videos have been posted, six of them recapping spring practice and previewing the season for six teams. Here are links to the six teams previewed thus far: Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois.


Penn State Football said...

Thank goodness I fired my cable company years ago in favor of DirecTiVo!

The Voice of Reason said...

If you need the Big Ten Network, that's not all you need.

Bullseye said...

Not everyone needs the Food Channel either but we all get it. I think the Big Ten Channel is a good idea and will prove quite a bit more popular than 90% of the channels Comcast forces us to pay for on basic cable already. There is a strong interest among alum and their family and friends to have access to women's sports offerings along with non-sports programming from the various Big Ten schools. I am personally going to contact Comcast to voice my support for the network and invite other fans to join me.