Big Ten Network, Comcast Reach Distribution Deal In Maryland, Rutgers Markets
The Big Ten Network and Comcast have "finalized an agreement for distribution in New Jersey and Maryland, as the Big Ten prepares to officially welcome new members Rutgers and Maryland on July 1," according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. BTN announced "similar agreements with both Time Warner Cable and Cablevision in May, so the Comcast pact means the network will be available on the three major cable distributors" servicing the N.Y. and DC markets. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, "It indicates that the Eastern initiative is moving forward in the direction we hoped it would." Rittenberg noted BTN's distribution will "slightly vary from state to state, but it will be available to many more Comcast customers rather than appearing strictly on a separate sports tier." Launch dates have yet to be finalized, but BTN President Mark Silverman said that all three cable distribution agreements will "go into effect before the football season starts in late August." Silverman will "try to get distribution deals with smaller cable carriers in the next few months" (ESPN.com, 6/25). In Newark, Dan Duggan notes the network now will "reach 60 million homes, up from 52 million last year." It also will be "available on expanded basic cable, which is in line with how the BTN is carried in other Big Ten states." Financial terms of the deals were unavailable, but Silverman said that the net is "receiving rates comparable to deals in other markets." Meanwhile, a plan for the network to hold "Rutgers Day" on July 2 "has been postponed due to delays acquiring the broadcast rights to some of Rutgers' past games" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/26).