Friday, June 29, 2007

An Update on the Second-Tier Network

They keep piling on the Big Ten Network, a week after conference commissioner Jim Delany asked David Cohen to apologize for remarks the Comcast executive made about the fledgling network. Cohen properly stood his ground and the person looking like the fool is Delany, who is losing credibility by the second.

But Delany is stubborn and in this battle of egos, he is not about to acknowledge he goofed, even though everybody else realizes he did. Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press has a biting piece in which he writes:

"This isn't exactly the Boston Tea Party. The disgruntled will not toss their television remotes into Lake Michigan, but Delany's demand that Comcast include the Big Ten Network in its basic cable package reeks of imperialism.

"He wants all of Comcast's nearly six-million cable subscribers within the eight-state Big Ten region footing the bill for a network with only marginal interest in its own backyard. And Delany is using the conference football games that ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 have no use for as leverage in pressuring Comcast to acquiesce to its demands."

And as for Delany's attempt to get his network carried nationwide, it appears he hasn't done his homework. Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret Morning News writes: "The commissioner of the Big Ten is remarkably naive. Well, either that or the Mountain West Conference's channel, The mtn., is completely off his radar."

He points to this quote from Delany about his battle with Comcast: "Now, perhaps if they owned the network, we would be getting a different treatment."

It turns out that Comcast is half-owner and operator The mtn. Although the network is available on lower tiers of Comcast cable systems in Mountain West TV markets, it isn't available at all on most Comcast systems.

"It is telling, however, that Comcast considers the Big Ten Network a niche channel. That pretty much explains why the cable company won't distribute The mtn. in non-MWC markets," writes Pierce.

At this point, maybe the only hope for Delany is to have his network show "a good old time rope climb to lighten the spirits."

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