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Big Ten Network scores a deal with Comcast

Fri, 06/20/2008 - 8:45am
Mike Robuck

After more than a year of wrangling, yesterday the Big Ten Network and Comcast announced that they have a deal in place for Comcast to carry the Big Ten Network’s programming.

The two sides were at loggerheads over Comcast putting Big Ten Network’s programming on a premium, or sports, tier instead of on its basic tier, the latter of which would have made the Big Ten’s programming available to more viewers.

Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, Comcast will carry Big Ten Network programming across television, broadband and video-on-demand (VOD) services starting with the kickoff of college football this fall.

On Aug. 15, Comcast will initially launch the network as part of its expanded basic tier in order to promote it in the Big Ten states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, expect for the area of Philadelphia where it will launch on a broadly distributed digital tier. Comcast does not have a footprint in Iowa, which is the eighth Big Ten state.

Some fans in those states with Comcast’s service were upset that they couldn’t get Big Ten Network programming, while Comcast’s competition in those areas played up their access to the network.

Next spring, Comcast could elect to move the network to a broadly distributed digital level of service in most of its systems in these states.

Comcast’s digital customers in the Big Ten states will also have immediate access to live Big Ten games and events in high-definition (HD), Big Ten programming via Comcast’s VOD platform, and through Comcast.net.

Outside of the Big Ten states that Comcast serves, Comcast has the option to provide Big Ten Network programming on any level of service, including its sports tier.

“We are very pleased with the agreement we have reached with the Big Ten Network to carry hundreds of live Big Ten events,” said Madison Bond, EVP of content acquisition for Comcast Cable.  “We will be providing our customers with Big Ten programming through our signature video-on-demand service and will have lots of highlights, replays, scores and more through Comcast.net so fans can keep pace with Big Ten action whenever they want to.”

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