It Is Done Comment Count

Brian August 27th, 2008 at 12:57 PM

The Midwest’s long regional nightmare is over. Time Warner joins up:

Time Warner Cable and the Big Ten Network have ended more than a year of contract negotiations just in time for a telecast of Ohio State University’s first football game of the season on Aug. 30.

Charter does as well:

Charter Communications Inc. and the Big Ten Network say they've reached a distribution agreement.

The multiyear deal announced Wednesday allows the St. Louis-based cable company to carry the network's programming throughout Big Ten territory, including systems in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and northern Illinois.

With the much publicized Comcast deal and a unconfirmed-but-likely agreement with Mediacom, the Big Ten Network is nearing saturation levels in the footprint. After all the huffing and puffing from the media, fans, and partisans on both sides of the carriage debate, Jim Delany’s diabolical plan has worked.

It cost us a year of irritation and about 70 cents a month. In return, we get

  • vast amounts of HD programming, even when Minnesota plays Northwestern
  • much better coverage of basketball and other lesser sports
  • a comprehensive survey of the various horrible commercials put out by the conference’s alumni associations
  • all the Dinardo you can eat
  • paid cash money homes.

Thanks to Big Ten Network and the conference’s unique contract with ESPN/ABC, which assures that any non-night game on an ESPN network is nationally televised, you can see ever football game your team plays—even if it’s against Cal-Poly on the last week of the year. No pay per view. No Gameplan. No syndicated Michigan State games at noon occupying otherwise interesting slots on ABC.

And it’s keeping us ahead of the Joneses even with the SEC’s mondo ESPN contract:

Under the new deal, that annual number could leap to as much as $15 million per school, which is just shy of the projected average revenue Big Ten schools get from their TV deals each year.

It is difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the two conferences because of the incongruity of the length of the deals and their escalating values. But the Big Ten Network could annually pay its schools an average up to $10.2 million each over the 25-year term of its deal with the Big Ten. The deal started this past year with a payment of $6 million to each school and the number could escalate each year, depending on the network’s revenue.

The Big Ten Conference’s 10-year deals with CBS and ESPN will produce an average of $9.3 million for each school.

So, like… holy crap. It worked. The Big Ten monetized the hell out of content it was getting very little for, got a ton more games into everyone’s home, and provided gainful employment to poor Gerry Dinardo.

This is going to be weird, but here goes:

Thanks, Jim Delany!

Now, no offense, but please refrain from making public statements about anything.



August 27th, 2008 at 1:02 PM ^

When are Big Ten games on CBS?  Should the last sentance say:  The SEC's 15 year deal with CBS and ESPN will produce an average of $9.3M for each school.


August 27th, 2008 at 1:22 PM ^

Big Ten schools may be getting slightly more money from the BTN but I'm pretty sure ESPN/CBS/SEC are still more visible in Mississippi so Jay Hopson is still screwed.


August 27th, 2008 at 1:23 PM ^

I could never figure out the hostility to Comcast and the other nets on this: you have a network that will be watched only between the months of September-November and once in April (spring practice) and never again except for the odd repeat, yet Delaney wanted to charge them like they were almost ESPN.  And demand how it was carried. And yea! I now have access to softball and volleyball games for my escalating bill. I can't ever remember one of our games not being picked up on free TV, and that would have continued if the Big Ten Network wasn't formed. 


August 27th, 2008 at 1:28 PM ^

It's mostly because Comcast tried to use the BTN as an excuse to charge anyone who wanted it $5 for the sports package.  They claimed that there wasn't enough interest in the channel for the cost, but that hasn't stopped them from adding other crappy channels and then increasing the rates before.  So everyone was unhappy that they were holding out so they could charge the sports fans a lot while adding other channels at increased cost without thinking twice.


August 28th, 2008 at 12:33 PM ^

Even it's cheaper than Gameday and/or beers at the sports bar, Comcast's reason for keeping the BTN off basic cable was hypocritical after all of the other rate increases for other channels.  Which is why I sucked it up and switched to DirecTV + DSL.  Which is actually cheaper.  Haven't regretted that decision at all.

Yinka Double Dare

August 27th, 2008 at 1:34 PM ^

You do realize that Comcast serves other areas, besides Michigan, that might care about basketball, right?  They're big in the Chicago area, and there are lots of Illinois, Indiana, MSU and Wisconsin alums here, all of whom will definitely watch it for basketball, which the BTN provides a lot of.


August 27th, 2008 at 1:31 PM ^

I just called them today and they said I don't have to upgrade/buy any extra packages to get the BigTen network. They are providing it at no extra charge to all Time Warner subscribers. They said you don't even need a cable box. I will look for the $.70 increase on my $120 cable bill.


August 27th, 2008 at 1:43 PM ^

Does anyone know what my chances are of getting the BTN with the Time Warner I have in Los Angeles?  I'm assuming it won't be free, but would it even be available I wanted to pay for it?


August 27th, 2008 at 1:45 PM ^

Just depends on your specific package and how much of the cost your cable provider wants to pass along.  Given the rate wars that are ongoing in many areas with AT&T and dish, it may be no change to your bill.


August 27th, 2008 at 1:51 PM ^

Does anyone else find that on the BTN the audio almost never matches up with the lips of the people talking?  I've been meaning to write them to complain, but then I thought, "Maybe it's just me"

MC Hammer

August 27th, 2008 at 3:20 PM ^

I live in MA and am about to order the BTN (7.95 a month for S&E, not too bad).  But I noticed that there are a lot of games on the BTN at the same time.  Do you guys think that outside the Midwest the game of choice would be Michigan? (assuming OSU isn't on at the same time) I really don't want to see Iowa at Minnesota over a Michigan game.


August 27th, 2008 at 7:37 PM ^

from TWC website-

Big Ten Network Update

August 27th, 2008

Time Warner Cable and the
Big Ten Network announced today that they have reached an
agreement-in-principle on terms of carriage for the Big Ten Network and
its high-definition and video-on-demand programming on Time Warner
Cable's line-ups throughout the Big Ten territory, including Ohio and

The pending agreement will
ensure that Time Warner Cable's customers across these Big Ten states
will have access to this Saturday's Big Ten college football season
openers and all future Big Ten Network programming on an expanded basic
level of service.

Once Time Warner Cable
gets the core Big Ten market agreements in place we will evaluate the
possibility of carrying these games locally.  Continue to check our
website,, for information updates.

so i guess this means that people outside of big10 footprint are still going to have to wait.