Big Ten Net targets international market
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman sat down with SportsBusiness Journal media reporter John Ourand in New York last week and talked about ways the network can grow in the next five years.
|The network needs to broaden its BTN2Go streaming product, Silverman says.
SILVERMAN:We’re really focusing on growing internationally. BTN2Go is launching internationally. You can go to BTN2Go.com, and whatever country you’re in, you pay your fee and you’re watching 24 hours of BTN. It’s on your computer, your iPad, your iPhone, your Android. It’s fully there. We’re working with all the alumni associations of all the 12 schools to be able to promote this package. The way to get distributed internationally is different. You’re not going to get widespread international distribution on cable systems. What we can do now, via the Internet, is become available to hundreds of millions of people on whatever device they want. I think it can be a big moneymaker for us as more people get to know about it. We plan to have tens of thousands of subscribers to this by the end of our first year and to significantly grow it over the next two years.
SILVERMAN:Certain brands have a strong enough and a large enough fan base that can enable them to do it. With us, it was a marriage of two really strong partners in Fox and the Big Ten. The Big Ten brand is big enough. There are enough people that wanted it that made the difference to have distributors carry us. If you’re smaller or more narrow, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to be able to achieve what we were able to achieve. Perseverance is important. If you’re not willing to deal with some struggles and some challenges, you’re not going to be able to succeed. Jim Delany and Fox persevered with us and believed in it and were able to see it through.
SILVERMAN:I don’t think a television network is necessarily the right answer for every conference. Each conference has to do what’s in its own best interest. The Mountain West tried to do a network and it obviously didn’t work. It wasn’t the right idea for them to do a network. For the Big Ten, having a network is a great benefit. We’ll see what happens with the other major conferences.
SILVERMAN:I did not think that our network was going to end up having such an impact on realignment. Once we got the network done, a lot of the seismic change came from conferences thinking, “How can we maximize our value, either in television rights or launching a network.” The irony is that was never what the Big Ten was about. All these other conferences look to do that to maximize television dollars.
SILVERMAN:I don’t believe the Big Ten is going to be any different from where we are currently. All of us realize that at some point, it can’t escalate at the rate that it has been escalating. It has to slow down at some point. I don’t know when that happens. It feels like we’re not done in this realignment.