Big Ten Network Could Go Dark On Dish Network Before Start Of Football Season
Dish Network subscribers "who are expecting to watch Ohio State's opener against Miami University on Saturday could be out of luck if contract negotiations between the satellite television carrier and the Big Ten Network fail," according to Bill Rabinowitz of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The five-year contract "between BTN and Dish signed five years ago when the BTN was launched expires Friday." Dish has "about 14 million" subscribers, and "slightly under 2.5 million of those have the BTN in their coverage package" (DISPATCH.com, 8/27). In Indiana, Mike Carmin noted BTN is "scheduled to televise four games Saturday" (JCONLINE.com, 8/26).
CHANGE IS COMING: In Birmingham, Jon Solomon noted adding Texas A&M and Missouri "figures to increase the SEC's television dollars." ESPN Senior VP/College Programming Burke Magnus said that those discussions "have been rolled into the SEC channel talks." Magnus said, "We've all kind of taken the approach to say it doesn't make sense to talk about that in a vacuum if Project SEC is going to go forward." Solomon noted the "earliest a channel could be launched would be 2014, when ESPN gets back syndication rights it sublicensed" to RSNs operated by Fox Sports and Comcast. An SEC channel "could air 40 to 50 football games a year." Magnus: "If there's a viable business there and we can secure what is a really positive partnership with a very powerful league that we have a great relationship with now, I think there's a lot of underlying reasons to do it" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 8/25).
LOOK WHO'S TALKING: ESPN Exec VP/Affiliate Sales & Marketing David Preschlack said that "talks are continuing with cable and satellite groups" for carriage of the Longhorn Network. Preschlack said that despite "suggestions to the contrary, ESPN is talking 'to everybody,' including Time Warner Cable and Comcast, on adding the UT sports-devoted channel." He also "indicated that the company will continue to hold a firm line regarding pricing and levels of distribution and that ESPN wants any deals with major distributors to be 'in line' with deals already in place with smaller carriers" (CHRON.com, 8/25).
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO...: On Long Island, Greg Logan noted the Big East's "exclusive 60-day window to negotiate with current broadcast partner ESPN opens Saturday." But league officials "believe they will prosper by spreading the product across multiple 'media entities,' possibly including the new NBC Sports Network, in an effort to equal or surpass the recently upgraded ACC deal worth $17.1 million annually to member schools" (NEWSDAY, 8/26).