Big Ten Net Spot Could Escalate Comcast Carriage Dispute
Big Ten Network today is ratcheting up the pressure in its carriage dispute with Comcast, rolling out a 30-second spot that features 12 of the 14 conference football coaches. The coaches alert viewers to the possibility that Comcast’s Xfinity service may not carry Big Ten football games this season on either BTN or FS1. BTN’s deal with Comcast ends Aug. 31, as does a surcharge Comcast paid for Big Ten games on FS1 last season. Comcast earlier this year dropped BTN in non-Big Ten markets, a move that angered conference and network execs. The network said no progress has been made since Fox Sports National Networks President Mark Silverman went public with the dispute at Big Ten Media Day two weeks ago.
The spot, which will originate online and via social media, was designed to show the conference’s unity in this dispute. Every coach is featured except Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who will appear in other BTN-produced videos. Meyer’s absence from the first round of promos was decided prior to him being placed on an administrative leave of absence.