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Volume 21 No. 6
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Big Ten Network timeline: Inception to 60M viewers

2006

June
News Corp. announces a 20-year contract with the Big Ten, with an option for five more years, to launch and operate the Big Ten Network. The conference will own 51 percent and Fox will control 49 percent of the RSN. News Corp. later projects in documents filed with the SEC that the partnership could pay $2.8 billion to the conference over the 25-year life of its deal, through fiscal 2032.

December
BTN’s studios will be in what was formerly the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog House, a 44,000-square-foot national historic landmark in Chicago.

Former ABC Cable Networks Group general manager and senior vice president Mark Silverman is introduced as the organization’s first president.

2007

June
Big 12 Conference Commissioner Kevin Weiberg is named BTN vice president of university planning and development.

August
BTN officially launches at 8 p.m. ET Aug. 30. BTN officials say that it is the first network to surpass 30 million subscribers within 30 days of launch, with about half of those coming from DirecTV. The RSN is available in about 45 percent of the homes in the conference’s eight-state footprint.

September 1
At noon ET, the network carries four football games, with most audiences seeing Michigan versus Appalachian State.

Carriage deal is signed with EchoStar’s Dish Network. The network was temporarily blacked out for eight days beginning Sept. 14.

October
No deal with Time Warner Cable in Columbus means the Wisconsin-Ohio State football game airs in fewer than 60 percent of the market’s households.

RCN Corp. announces that it will offer BTN to its expanded basic TV customers in metropolitan Chicago and in its Pennsylvania markets.

2008

January
DirecTV offers BTN only as an “a la carte” option on the satellite company’s business lineup, meaning bar and restaurant owners must pay an extra $40 a month to receive the channel.

Inside the Big Ten Network production truck during a Penn State game in 2008. Photo by: AP IMAGES
June
In a major breakthrough, BTN signs carriage deals with Comcast and Verizon FiOS TV, leaving Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications as the main lone holdouts.

Financial documents filed by the Big Ten Conference show Commissioner Jim Delany was awarded a $1.5 million bonus by the presidents of the member institutions for his role in creating BTN. Financial documents filed by News Corp. reveal that the launches of BTN and Fox Business Network resulted in approximately $160 million in operating losses for the company during its most recent fiscal year.

August
Just days before the start of the season, a Time Warner Cable deal gets done. Mediacom, Midcontinent Communications and Charter Communications also sign agreements. Second season begins with about 240 distribution deals in place, as BTN is available in 90 percent, or 58 million households, of the conference’s eight-state footprint.

2011-12

SEC filings indicate that BTN posts its first annual profit, although specific figures are not provided. Fox now owns 51 percent of the network and the conference 49 percent.

2014-15

Schools begin receiving profit shares from BTN. Details about which schools receive them and how much is distributed is not revealed, although the league’s newest members will have to wait until 2017-18 (Nebraska), and 2020-21 (Maryland and Rutgers) to receive their shares.

2017

Celebrating its 10th year, the Big Ten Network subscriber base sits at 60 million homes.

—Compiled by SportsBusiness Journal research