June 21, 2008

Comcast and Big Ten Network Strike Deal

By Kyle Nagel Staff Writer

Millions more fans will have greater access to Big Ten Conference football games this fall, but local Ohio State supporters are still waiting.

The Big Ten Network and Comcast on Thursday, June 19, announced a deal to place the all-day, year-round channel devoted to the Big Ten on expanded basic cable at least through the upcoming basketball season beginning Aug. 15.

Time Warner Cable, the dominant area provider, still does not have a deal with the network. Subscribers can neither purchase nor view the channel.

"Time Warner Cable and Fox are in ongoing talks regarding the carriage of the Big Ten Network," said Pam McDonald, a Time Warner spokesperson. "Both sides have shown an interest in continuing progress."

McDonald said the deal with Comcast doesn't change Time Warner's negotiations with the network. "Everyone has different terms and conditions they're willing to compromise on," she said.

The Comcast deal is seen as a major step for the Big Ten Network, which will complete its first broadcast year in late August.

Comcast, with about 5 million customers in seven Big Ten states, is the first major cable operator to strike a deal with the network. The deal, which had been expected for several months, will pay the Big Ten Network 70 cents per month for every Comcast subscriber in the Big Ten states. The network had reportedly been asking for $1.10.

Fox, a majority owner of the network, and the BTN have been asking for placement on expanded basic cable and the $1.10 per- subscribe fee, both of which the major cable companies had resisted.

Depending on the week, the BTN has the second or third choice of Big Ten games to broadcast. It aired Buckeyes games against Youngstown State, Akron, Kent State and Wisconsin last season.

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