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Big Ten Network: Questions and Answers

Today's Iowa-Western Michigan football game marks the fourth apperance this season on the Big Ten Network for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Today's Iowa-Western Michigan football game marks the fourth apperance this season on the Big Ten Network for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Nov. 17, 2007

  • Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
  • Big Ten Network: Programming Schedule

    IOWA CITY -- The University of Iowa football team plays its final game of the 2007 regular season Saturday against Western Michigan at historic Kinnick Stadium. The game will be televised live to a national audience by the Big Ten Network. It is the Hawkeyes' fourth appearance on the Big Ten Network during the 2007 season.

    Here is a brief Q-A for friends of the University of and fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes who remain curious about the changes in the television landscape in the Big Ten Conference, the creation of the Big Ten Network, and its discussions with the nation's largest cable television companies like Mediacom, the state of Iowa's largest cable television provider.

    Q: Why was the Big Ten Network created?

    A: A few years ago, Big Ten Conference executives met with ABC/ESPN executives to discuss extending the conference's football and basketball agreements that were expiring within a few years. In that meeting, the Big Ten was told that as part of a renewal, the conference would need to move some football games to Thursday nights, that it would have more games than ever before appear on ESPN platforms that did not have widespread distribution, and that it would not receive the additional exposure for women's athletics it was seeking.

    Following this meeting, the Big Ten decided to fully evaluate having its own network to complement its national television agreements. The conference determined that it could form a network that would include football and basketball games, while also greatly increasing the number of women's and Olympic sports seen on television.





    Q: Why was the Big Ten Network created when we used to watch the games for free

    A: The notion that all Big Ten games were on free, over-the-air TV is incorrect. In 2005 and 2006, 13 Big Ten football games were not televised at all. During that same time, a total of 42 football games moved from being regionally or locally syndicated so that they could be seen on over the air stations to other ESPN platforms that were not widely available. Similarly, in 2006, 85 men's basketball games received no television coverage, while 16 contests were on either ESPNU or ESPN360. The trend of games moving away from local syndication would have continued with or without the Big Ten Network.



    In addition, by controlling its own network, the Big Ten could avoid airing beer commercials, gambling ads and infomercials.

    Subsequently, the Big Ten went back to ABC/ESPN and renewed its agreement. More importantly, the Big Ten retained a full complement of live games and rights to classic games and launched the Big Ten Network.

    The network launched on August 30, 2007, and is on the air 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

    The Big Ten Network is a joint venture between subsidiaries of the Big Ten Conference and Fox Cable Networks. Fox has a proven track record of successfully launching other networks.

    Q: Why was the Big Ten Network created when we used to watch the games for free

    A: The notion that all Big Ten games were on free, over-the-air TV is incorrect. In 2005 and 2006, 13 Big Ten football games were not televised at all. During that same time, a total of 42 football games moved from being regionally or locally syndicated so that they could be seen on over the air stations to other ESPN platforms that were not widely available. Similarly, in 2006, 85 men's basketball games received no television coverage, while 16 contests were on either ESPNU or ESPN360. The trend of games moving away from local syndication would have continued with or without the Big Ten Network.

    With the Big Ten Network, every home Big Ten football and men's basketball game is being produced for a national audience, while the Big Ten Conference's share of revenues directly benefit the schools. We believe that fans within the Big Ten's eight-state footprint should be able to see these games at no additional charge on their existing expanded basic cable package. Outside the eight states, fans would likely have to subscribe to a different level of service.

    When fully distributed, the Big Ten Network ensures that every home Big Ten football and men's basketball game will be produced for a national audience.

    Q: Why are cable companies saying the Big Ten Network wants me to pay extra to receive it?

    A: Many are trying to confuse the issue. It's true that cable operators pay the network a fee to receive our programming. But it's their decision as to whether they pass that cost on to consumers. More than 160 cable companies -- 67 in the state of Iowa alone - have added the Big Ten Network without a simultaneous price increase to their customers. And all are carrying the network on the expanded basic level of service.

    Q: So, how much does the network cost the operators?

    A: Less than a buck within the Big Ten's eight states, and a dime everywhere else. Overall, the Big Ten Network's national average price to cable companies is about 30 cents. According to research by SNL Kagan, even focusing just within the eight states, a Big Ten Network rate of $1 would rank it 30th on a list of 39 regional sports networks.

    Q: How many people get the Big Ten Network?

    A: Through distribution agreements with DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-Verse, Insight Communications, WideOpenWest, RCN, Service Electric and more than 160 other cable operators across the country, the Big Ten Network became the first new network in cable or satellite television history to reach 30 million subscribers within its first 30 days. However, we will not be satisfied until every potential subscriber in the Big Ten's eight-state region is receiving the network.

    Q: Why won't the Big Ten Network go onto a sports tier?

    A: There are many reasons.

  • Cornerstones in the Community. The Big Ten Conference includes ten public institutions that are cornerstones in their local communities and are very important to the people who attended these schools or live nearby. We believe it is important that these same local communities have complete access to these institutions and their programming. A sports tier does not provide this access.

  • The network warrants widespread distribution. The conference is committed to broad distribution of the Big Ten Network's programming, which has wide appeal, particularly within the eight-state Big Ten region. The evidence of this is that, on cable/satellite systems that currently carry the network, ratings for its Saturday football games have consistently ranked among the top 12 programs among all cable programs across all networks. Ratings for football telecasts have also rated higher than college football on NBC and CBS, and in some markets have rated higher than the baseball playoffs on TBS. Programming this popular within Big Ten Country deserves to be broadly distributed.

  • Networks like ours are on expanded basic. Although the network is the first of its kind and will distribute all its programming throughout the country, its local appeal is comparable to many sports networks that also are broadly available.

  • Sports tiers are limited and expensive. Only 4% of households currently have what is considered to be a sports tier package, and such packages are not available in all markets. One reason some cable companies want to carry the network on a sports tier is to drive more subscribers to these higher-margin packages. Comcast, for example, would receive an estimated $280 per year from a customer who is not already a digital subscriber and an estimated $138 per year if that customer already pays for digital service, which is required to get a sports tier. We want to work with all of our carriers to help their businesses, but we believe the core Big Ten Network service must be available on expanded basic television to reach the largest number of people possible. DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight, WOW and RCN, and about 160 other cable companies already added the network to their expanded basic level of service without a simultaneous price increase to consumers.

  • The network is not financially viable on a sports tier. The Big Ten has committed to an unprecedented level of coverage of Big Ten events. The cost structure of such coverage, which includes producing more than 400 live events, almost all them in high-definition, requires an ability to sell advertising and generate revenue that limited distribution on a sports tier would be unable to provide. Thus, the network would not be financially viable if it were placed on a sports tier within the Big Ten footprint. Comcast knows this, which is why, of the 11 sports networks it owns, none are on a sports tier. We have been flexible enough to be able to reach agreement on a price with 160 other cable operators, and all those agreements call for our placement on expanded basic.

    Q: How many men's and women's basketball games will be on the network this winter?

    A: The Big Ten Network will televise more basketball games than any other network, including 140 regular season men's basketball games, plus three Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament games. There will be at least 17 Illinois games, 17 Indiana games, 23 Iowa games, 13 Michigan games, 14 Michigan State games, 19 Minnesota games, 21 Northwestern games, 13 Ohio State games, 18 Penn State games, 18 Purdue games and 20 Wisconsin games.

    The network also will have 55 women's basketball games, more than any other network. Games by school are: Illinois, seven; Indiana, eight, Iowa; eight; Michigan, eight; Michigan State, eight; Minnesota, 10; Northwestern, 11; Ohio State, eight; Penn State, 11; Purdue, eight; and Wisconsin, eight games.

    Q: I want the Big Ten Network, but my cable company is not providing it. What can I do?

    A: The most important thing you can do is tell your cable provider that you want the Big Ten Network on expanded basic cable and ask your friends to do the same. Call 1-866-WANT-B10 to record a message or patch through directly to cable companies. Tell them you want the Big Ten Network on expanded basic cable.

    We have national agreements in place with DIRECTV, DISH Network and AT&T U-Verse as well as cable agreements with Insight Communications, WideOpenWest, RCN, Service Electric and about 160 other cable operators. Go to the front page of www.BigTenNetwork.com and enter your zip code to find a Big Ten Network provider in your area.





    Q: How many men's and women's basketball games will be on the network this winter?

    A: The Big Ten Network will televise more basketball games than any other network, including 140 regular season men's basketball games, plus three Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament games. There will be at least 17 Illinois games, 17 Indiana games, 23 Iowa games, 13 Michigan games, 14 Michigan State games, 19 Minnesota games, 21 Northwestern games, 13 Ohio State games, 18 Penn State games, 18 Purdue games and 20 Wisconsin games.

    The network also will have 55 women's basketball games, more than any other network. Games by school are: Illinois, seven; Indiana, eight, Iowa; eight; Michigan, eight; Michigan State, eight; Minnesota, 10; Northwestern, 11; Ohio State, eight; Penn State, 11; Purdue, eight; and Wisconsin, eight games.



    Q: Are you going to make a deal with Mediacom?

    A: Based on the positions they have taken with regards to the Big Ten Network, we believe it is extremely unlikely that Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter or Mediacom will decide to carry the Big Ten Network in the near future. We continue to attempt to engage each of them in productive negotiations.

    Q: Will the Big Ten Network carry the games I want to see?

    A: The Big Ten Network is showing more Big Ten football games and more Big Ten basketball games than any other network.

    We are televising 41 football games in 2007 (38 in HD) and 140 men's basketball games this winter, including 64 conference match-ups and three Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament games.

    The Big Ten Network has a 20-year contract and will be the destination for more Big Ten coverage than any other network. The Big Ten Conference also has long-term agreements with ABC, ESPN and CBS.

    Q: How will you handle multiple games at once? Which game will I get to see?

    A: The Big Ten Network sometimes airs multiple games at the same time, and delivers the games you care most about in your market.

    We offer the games we are not broadcasting in certain markets to our distribution partners to air on their "overflow" channels, so that fans who live outside their university's state can watch their teams.

    DIRECTV, DISH Network and AT&T U-Verse carry our "overflow" games. For cable subscribers, the decision whether or not to air Big Ten Network "overflow" games will be made by their cable operator.

    Check BigTenNetwork.com each week to get specific overflow channel information for DIRECTV, DISH Network and AT&T U-Verse. If you are a cable subscriber, check with your provider.

    Q: As a DIRECTV customer, do I get the Big Ten Network?

    A: DIRECTV offers the Big Ten Network on its CHOICE Package, DIRECTV's most widely distributed programming package. The Network is on DIRECTV channel 220. Visit www.BigTenNetwork.com every week to see which games are carried on Channel 220 and which are carried on an overflow channel, or call DIRECTV for more information.

    ,b>Q: Does DIRECTV carry the Big Ten Network in HD?

    A: Yes, DIRECTV carries the Big Ten Network in both standard-definition and high-definition on channel 220 (viewers will see two channels 220s in the on-screen program guide: one labeled BTN and one labeled BTNHD). Overflow games can be found on neighboring channels (currently 218 and 219) and are also available in both standard-definition and high-definition. Customers must have an MPEG4 HD receiver and 5-LNB satellite dish in order to receive the Big Ten Network in HD from DIRECTV.

    Q: As a DISH Network customer, do I get the Big Ten Network?

    A: Yes. Currently, DISH Network customers nationwide who subscribe to America's Top 100 and higher will find the Big Ten Network on Channel 439. Additionally, the satellite provider has also committed to carrying the network's overflow games so subscribers will have access to all Big Ten Network games when multiple games are being produced. Visit www.BigTenNetwork.com every week to see which games are on Channel 439 and which are on an overflow channel, or call DISH Network for more information.

    Beginning in March 2008 for DISH customers inside the Big Ten's eight states, DISH Network will move the Big Ten Network from America's Top 100 (AT100) service to its America's Top 100 Plus service (AT100+) That level of service is the equivalent to expanded basic cable and includes all of the regional sports networks DISH carries.

    Beginning in March 2008 for DISH customers outside the Big Ten's eight states, DISH Network will move the Big Ten Network from AT100 to a level of service to be deteriined.

    This remains consistent with our stance that if you live within the Big Ten footprint, you should be able to receive the Big Ten Network on an expanded basic or the equivalent level of service. Outside of the Big Ten region, we are flexible on our carriage terms.

    Q: How can fans outside of the eight-state region see the Big Ten Network?

    A: All television distributors have been offered the Big Ten Network as an enhancement to their line-ups. If your cable provider is not picking up the Big Ten Network, you can call 1-866-WANT-B10 to let them know of your interest in receiving the network.

    Even though the level of service cable/satellite providers may offer for the network may vary, we want to work with them so that you'll be able to order it.

    You can also call DIRECTV or DISH Network. Both have already reached an agreement with the network. To order DIRECTV, call 1-888-999-0422. To order DISH Network, call 1-800-333-DISH.

    Q: Will the Big Ten Network broadcast in high-definition?

    A: The Big Ten Network will produce more original HD than any other network in history. We plan to produce more than 350 events and our nightly live studio show in HD, which will total more than 1,000 hours of original HD content in our first year alone. If you do not have a high-definition television, you will still be able to receive all of our programming in standard definition.

    Q: Will ESPN GamePlan or ESPN Full Court still carry Big Ten games?

    A: In years past, the only Big Ten games that appeared on ESPN GamePlan or ESPN Full Court were the regional ABC football games and the football and basketball games aired on ESPN Regional and ESPN Plus. Those regional ABC football games will now air on ESPN/ESPN2 out of market. The ESPN Regional/ESPN Plus basketball games will now be carried by the Big Ten Network.

    In 2007, the only time a Big Ten ABC game might end up on GamePlan is in the rare instance that ABC is regionalizing a prime-time Big Ten game. There will be no Big Ten games on ESPN Full Court.

    Overall, the Big Ten Network will be producing significantly more football and men's basketball games than have aired regionally in recent years, and these games will be made available to all cable and satellite systems as part of their contracts to carry the Big Ten Network.

    Q: Will the Big Ten Network stream games via the Internet?

    A: Yes. We are working hard to create and execute a broadband video strategy that will complement the high-quality programming found on our Network. Several factors will play a role in determining the breadth and depth of our broadband streaming offering. Keep an eye on www.BigTenNetwork.com for the latest information.

    Q: How will the Big Ten Network's profits be distributed?

    A: The Big Ten Conference's portion of all fees and other revenues from this venture will be shared equally among all 11 Big Ten institutions and the conference office. This increased financial support will help our schools to continue providing broad-based athletic programs, while enhancing the experience for all students on our campuses. For example, some schools will be using the money to finance more scholarships, while others are building much-needed new facilities.

    Q: What is on the Big Ten Network?

    A: The following programming is on the Big Ten Network and/or alternative Big Ten Network platforms:

  • 41 football games this season
  • 140 regular-season men's basketball games
  • 55 regular-season women's basketball games
  • Big Ten championship events
  • Archived Big Ten events, including bowl games
  • 170 Olympic sporting events
  • Coaches' shows
  • Classic games
  • 660 hours of campus programming
  • More high-definition programming than any new television network in history
  • An average of 70 events yearly per school




    Click HERE for the Big Ten Network home page.