Posted by: Opey | July 6, 2007

Big Ten Network Fight Has Greed on Both Ends

Who can forget the fight last year during the Packer’s season over one game against the Vikings.  That one game just so happened to be broadcast only on the NFL Network, who, for the first time last year, began broadcasting some of the “lower tier” games toward the end of the season.  The only problem with that set up, though, was that many cable subscribers in the Wisconsin and Minnesota television markets did not have access to the NFL Network due to fighting between the league and the cable providers in the area.  The NFL wanted their product available and charged to all, but the cable providers wanted to put the channel on a “sport tier” where subscibers would need to pay a premium fee to access the network if they so chose.  Well, another Fall, another problem between a network and the cable industry.  This time, however, the fight hits a bit closer to home for myself and thousands of fans of Big Ten sports.  The Big Ten will be launching the Big Ten Network in August, a channel that will show only Big Ten sports and programming.  Well wouldn’t you know it, but the same fight is shaping up.  Now, I was firmly on the side of the NFL Network last year.  They were not asking much in return for what they were offering in programming.  They were requesting a fee of $0.70 fee per customer to have access for the channel.  That would have been fine to view games and NFL programming.  As much as I would like to say that I am on the same side of the fence this time around, I have firmly placed myself right on the fence.  The Big Ten Network really only has a major viewing audience in a few states where their schools are located.  They will also be showing sports that do not have the same sized viewing audience as football or basketball.  Well, The Big Ten still wants $1.10 per customer in the conferences 8 states (less in all other states).  That seems a bit out of line using the NFL Network’s demands as a benchmark.  The big name football games on the channel for this year that feature teams such as Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan, are all against sub-par opponents.  The network should aim for that $0.70 fee mark that the NFL Network employs.

The cable companies are not innocent in all of this either.  They need to be flexible, especially in Big Ten markets.  There should be absolutely no reason why a teams games are not able to be watched in their own cities (blackout and other rules not withstanding).  That may very well be the case here in Madison.  UW takes on the Citadel this year (A crappy game to be sure) and the game will be broadcast only on the Big Ten Network.  The cable companies need to step up to the plate to work out some sort of a deal that either gets the network onto basic cable.  At the very least, any game on BTN needs to be broadcast on local channels in their own markets, just as the NFL did in areas such as Green Bay and Milwaukee.  Both sides need to come down of their high horses, quit being stubborn to the point of lunacy, and meet in the middle for the good of the fans of Big Ten Conference sports.

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Responses

  1. […] the information available at the time, I arrived at the conclusion that there was a fair amount of greed and bullheadedness on both sides of the equation. The Big Ten wanted to charge Charter over a dollar per subscriber in order to carry the channel […]


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