SBD/Issue 234/Sports Media

Big Ten Network Rejects Time Warner Offer To Air Games On PPV

Time Warner Cable (TWC) Friday offered to air two upcoming Univ. of Wisconsin football (UW) games, scheduled to be broadcast on the Big Ten Network (BTN), "on a [PPV] basis, with the proceeds from the games going to UW," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The offer was "met with a caustic response from network officials, who branded the offer a publicity stunt aimed at confusing the public." BTN President Mark Silverman: "It sure seems clear that the network won't be on Time Warner soon." TWC Exec VP Terry O'Connell Friday sent letters to UW AD Barry Alvarez and Ohio State Univ. (OSU) AD Gene Smith, who received a "similar offer." O'Connell in the letters made the PPV offer and "invited UW and OSU to set the price for the games." O'Connell said that all proceeds "would be returned to the universities." BTN VP/Communications Elizabeth Conlisk said in a statement, "Time Warner is well aware that it cannot selectively choose to air a network's programming in lieu of full carriage. In addition, offering to do so to a customer base it has effectively ignored for the past year in not carrying the network is counter-productive and creates both confusion and false hope" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/23). Under the terms of the offer, TWC said that it "would provide free converter boxes with [PPV] capability to its subscribers." In Columbus, Jeffrey Sheban reported the BTN "quickly rejected" the offer (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/23).

MEDIACOM: The BTN is on the cusp of signing another significant carriage deal, as Mediacom -- the country's eighth largest cable operator with more than 1.3 million subscribers -- has agreed to terms, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks. An official announcement is due out later this week. Mediacom's subscribers in Iowa will start seeing the channel on their expanded basic tier at some point this week, the source said. A deal with Mediacom is significant, since the operator has been one of the net's most vocal opponents, and its execs regularly rail against the price they have to pay for sports channels. BTN has cut deals with Comcast and Mediacom in the past few months, leaving Time Warner Cable and Charter as the only two main operators without a deal (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

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