Yes, but will we see the games?

  • 07/24/2007 5:36 pm in

bigtennetwork.jpgWe’ve done a solid amount of work here in the early goings of the new IU athletics season — most of it done by the prolific Big A — but among our notifications and analysis, we’ve been ignoring one crucial question: will the Big Ten network be available in our area?

The Hoosier Report has been all over this during the off-season, and now, some of the MSM folks that cover IU are hopping on as well. The Bloomington Herald-Times’ Chris Korman spoke with both representatives of the Big Ten Network, and with Comcast, in an attempt to see just what was holding a deal between the network and major cable provider back. The problem — similar to a rift between Major League Baseball and Time Warner earlier this year — is the tier system. Comcast wants to put the Big Ten Network on a by-choice sports package; BTN wants to be included in the basic cable package, and paid $1.10 for every basic cable subscriber.

Essentially, the options are this:

1. Comcast caves and puts the network on its basic package, and charges every Comcast subscriber a buck-plus for the Big Ten Network.
2. The Big Ten Network caves and agrees to be a part of the sports tier, which packages a bunch of different sports networks for $4.95 a month.
3. Neither cave, Comcast says screw it, and the Big Ten Network goes forward in its inaugural season giving its fans just one option for coverage: DirecTV.
Kelvin Sampson, outraged at the fact that his loyal fanbase has been so alienated, decides to personally hand-deliver season tickets to everyone who writes or reads this blog. Note: this is unlikely to happen.

This is horrible news for us, the fan, because when the bigwigs get together and get angry they’re usually not the ones with the most to lose. Comcast is king in Chicago, where I live (and I happen to get free internet and cable through my apartment complex). Were this any other product, I would take my free cable and tell Jim Delaney to sod off … but this isn’t Starz, this is IU, and of course we’ll pay. Which is why Delaney can even act like this; he knows he has us, and Comcast, by the balls, and if a deal doesn’t get done, us die-hards will still pay for what we can’t get elsewhere.

At the same time, Comcast spokesman Mark Apple has a point:

Apple disagreed with Delaney’s contention that the Big Ten Network will be so popular in states that have Big Ten schools that it demands to be put on expanded basic cable, which is the package most customers receive.

“If that’s the case, let’s put it on our sports tier and see who subscribes to it,” Apple said. “If he thinks the demand is that strong, what is he afraid of?”

Hard to argue with that, Jim. Think everyone wants the network? Then make them pay for it, and test your hypothesis.

Make no mistake, though: not everyone is like us. Not everyone will be willing to switch to DirecTV just to get IU hoops, because they either A.) Will follow on the internet, B.) Will go to The Kirkwood every gamenight, or C.) Just don’t care enough. It is in the best interests of Delaney to get this deal done, and get it done soon; since when do sports organizations — and TV networks — turn away the casual fan?

A humbly proposed compromise: make the Big Ten Network just like HBO. One channel, available for an extra few bucks a month, whatever price the market eventually sets. That eliminates BTN’s concerns of drowning in a sea of sports packages, while Comcast doesn’t have to worry about legions of unhappy customers calling and complaining about the rise in cable prices thanks to a channel they didn’t want in the first place. Don’t look now, but that’s a common sense compromise that should put an end to the silly flack spats, and begin the upcoming Big Ten seasons on a considerably more optimistic, and mature, note.

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  • Zach

    Another unfortunate side effect of this whole BTN vs. Comcast struggle is the fact that IU was depending on the revenues generated from the new channel to partly fund the new facilities for football, basketball, and baseball/softball.

    Being in Bloomington as a student, I don’t need access to the BTN until 10/13 against MSU, as that’s supposedly our first road game on the channel. I hope someone caves by then. Because this is just bad.

  • Zach

    Another unfortunate side effect of this whole BTN vs. Comcast struggle is the fact that IU was depending on the revenues generated from the new channel to partly fund the new facilities for football, basketball, and baseball/softball.

    Being in Bloomington as a student, I don’t need access to the BTN until 10/13 against MSU, as that’s supposedly our first road game on the channel. I hope someone caves by then. Because this is just bad.

  • Scott

    Does anyone know if Brighthouse cable (Time Warner) will carry the Big 10 network? I wouldn’t mind switching to DirectTV but you have to have a receiver for every TV correct? If so, I’d have to get 7 receivers, which is pretty ridiculous since I don’t have to do that at all with cable.

  • Scott

    Does anyone know if Brighthouse cable (Time Warner) will carry the Big 10 network? I wouldn’t mind switching to DirectTV but you have to have a receiver for every TV correct? If so, I’d have to get 7 receivers, which is pretty ridiculous since I don’t have to do that at all with cable.

  • Scott

    Does anyone know if Brighthouse cable (Time Warner) will carry the Big 10 network? I wouldn’t mind switching to DirectTV but you have to have a receiver for every TV correct? If so, I’d have to get 7 receivers, which is pretty ridiculous since I don’t have to do that at all with cable.

  • Big A

    Scott,

    Not sure about Brighthouse, but here’s a bit of info on DirecTV. They charge 4.99 per month for each additional receiver. If you need 6 additional receivers, that’ll get awful pricey.

  • Big A

    Scott,

    Not sure about Brighthouse, but here’s a bit of info on DirecTV. They charge 4.99 per month for each additional receiver. If you need 6 additional receivers, that’ll get awful pricey.

  • iumatt04

    Brighthouse/Time Warner has not agreed to carry the Network. From everything I’ve read, all the other companies (Insight, Brighthouse, etc) are following Comcast’s lead. So if Comcast strikes a deal, the rest will too.

    The Network is arguing, and I think they have a point, that there is a community benefit that comes along with their channel. In addition to the games, they are also offering each school 60 hours of original programming for whatever purchase they choose- highlight academic pursuits, student profiles, whatever. There is a certain university and community benefit that comes with the channel, and the people should have access to the channel on basic cable.

  • iumatt04

    Brighthouse/Time Warner has not agreed to carry the Network. From everything I’ve read, all the other companies (Insight, Brighthouse, etc) are following Comcast’s lead. So if Comcast strikes a deal, the rest will too.

    The Network is arguing, and I think they have a point, that there is a community benefit that comes along with their channel. In addition to the games, they are also offering each school 60 hours of original programming for whatever purchase they choose- highlight academic pursuits, student profiles, whatever. There is a certain university and community benefit that comes with the channel, and the people should have access to the channel on basic cable.

  • iumatt04

    Brighthouse/Time Warner has not agreed to carry the Network. From everything I’ve read, all the other companies (Insight, Brighthouse, etc) are following Comcast’s lead. So if Comcast strikes a deal, the rest will too.

    The Network is arguing, and I think they have a point, that there is a community benefit that comes along with their channel. In addition to the games, they are also offering each school 60 hours of original programming for whatever purchase they choose- highlight academic pursuits, student profiles, whatever. There is a certain university and community benefit that comes with the channel, and the people should have access to the channel on basic cable.

  • PostmanE

    iuMatt:

    I understand the sentiment, but I don’t altogether buy it. Maybe I’ll have to see the community-related programming before we can argue this too thoroughly, but I find it hard to believe the heart of the matter is the Big Ten Network’s burning desire to educate and inform the public about the good deeds of the Big Ten. That’s a perfectly reasonable bonus, but let’s be real: this is about money. An extra 1.99 for every basic cable subscriber is almost sure to add up to more than whatever share of the 4.99 sports tier they’d be getting. Call me cynical, but I’m finding it hard to believe the Big Ten Network’s benevolence outweighs its desire to make a buck.

  • PostmanE

    iuMatt:

    I understand the sentiment, but I don’t altogether buy it. Maybe I’ll have to see the community-related programming before we can argue this too thoroughly, but I find it hard to believe the heart of the matter is the Big Ten Network’s burning desire to educate and inform the public about the good deeds of the Big Ten. That’s a perfectly reasonable bonus, but let’s be real: this is about money. An extra 1.99 for every basic cable subscriber is almost sure to add up to more than whatever share of the 4.99 sports tier they’d be getting. Call me cynical, but I’m finding it hard to believe the Big Ten Network’s benevolence outweighs its desire to make a buck.

  • iumatt04

    PostmanE:

    Don’t get me wrong, the Big Ten Network is a business and therefore their goal is to make a profit. No denying that. My argument is simply that instead of controlling the entire programming, they have given the universities a decent amount of time each year for whatever they choose to show.

    I think that goes along way in demonstrating the partnership that exists between the Network and the univerities, and therefore the communities. It is not solely a sports channel that belongs on a sports tier.

  • iumatt04

    PostmanE:

    Don’t get me wrong, the Big Ten Network is a business and therefore their goal is to make a profit. No denying that. My argument is simply that instead of controlling the entire programming, they have given the universities a decent amount of time each year for whatever they choose to show.

    I think that goes along way in demonstrating the partnership that exists between the Network and the univerities, and therefore the communities. It is not solely a sports channel that belongs on a sports tier.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I didn’t like the network at first, but I really enjoy it now. Has been good for the conference. Time for a new logo though