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Sports Business

Big Ten Network battle boils

January 31, 2008
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The good news for Indiana and Purdue basketball fans is that there are a slew of games scheduled to be aired on a channel Indiana cable television operators actually carry.

The bad news is the Big Ten Network and Comcast Cable don’t appear any closer heading into February to reaching an agreement to bring the new channel to a broader audience than they were this fall. BTN officials still want the channel on an expanded basic package, and Comcast officials say it should go on a sports tier.

Comcast confirmed they’re losing subscribers angry at not being able to watch their favorite college hoops team. “But it’s not been a mass exodus,” said Comcast spokesman Mark Apple. “It has not been enough of a loss to move us off our negotiating position.”

Comcast is tracking the loss, Apple said, but wouldn’t disclose how many subscribers have jumped ship due to the BTN situation.

At least six, and probably nine of IU’s last 12 regular season games will be on network TV or ESPN. For Purdue, at least six of 11 games can be seen on a channel your cable provider carries. Fear not, the Big Ten men’s tournament will be aired on ESPN.

BTN officials continue urging fans that want to see the games to call to urge their cable company to carry the channel on a basic tier. “There’s a very vocal minority calling for these games,” Apple said.

He expects that cry to die down considerably in the next month. "After basketball season, there’s not much on [the BTN] that most people will want to watch,” Apple said.

So tell us, who will be the eventual winners and losers in this battle?
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