Friday, August 24, 2007

Further Bumps on the Road

To Economic Reality

BTN Is Not Going to Save Gopher Sports After All

Mr. B. has previously commented on the solicitation of OurLeader and the AD – Joltin' Joel on behalf of the BigTenNetwork (BTN) a conglomerate of the eleven BigTen schools who own half of it and Fox who owns the rest. So let's see, that means that BigU's cut will be ~5%.

The BTN was planning on making a killing by offering Comcast the opportunity to put it on basic cable so that everyone could pay. Comcast would rather put it on a separate grouping where only those interested in watching would pay. Needless to say BTN is not too happy with this suggestion because they would make far less money.

The latest word is:

Big Ten: Comcast deal unlikely

Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - 3:51 PM CDT Friday, August 24, 2007

by John Vomhof Jr.

The Big Ten Network is scheduled to launch Aug. 30, but many University of Minnesota sports fans won't be able to catch any of the action.

Network officials said Thursday that they do not expect to reach a deal with Comcast Communications.

"The fact is that Comcast is unwilling to negotiate with us, and it is now clear that it's highly unlikely any agreement will be achieved prior to launch," said Bob Thompson, president of Fox National Cable Sports Networks, in a statement. Fox Sports is partnering with the Big Ten Conference to start the network.

Comcast officials, on the other hand, say they are willing to negotiate, but the Big Ten Network is being unreasonable.

The network wants to be part of Comcast's basic cable package, but Comcast wants to include it in its more expensive sports package. Comcast says the network also wants it to pay $1.10 per subscriber to carry the channel. Comcast has about 5 million subscribers in eight Big Ten States: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"Our first priority is to protect our customers and to make the Big Ten Network available in the fairest way to all our customers... We simply can not allow Fox and the Big Ten to burden all of our customers -- the vast majority of whom have no interest in Big Ten sports," said Bill Connors, president of Comcast's midwest division, in a statement.

Mr. B. is shocked, shocked.

Comcast has reserved channel 255 for the Big Ten Network and remains hopeful of reaching a deal to carry the network, said Mary Beth Shubert, a local spokeswoman for the cable operator.

The Big Ten Network is slated to broadcast 60 to 70 Gophers athletics events during the 2007-08 season, including a number of women's events.

"Anyone who lives in an area serviced by Comcast who wants to make sure they don't miss a game had better make alternative plans," Thompson said.

The Big Ten Network has carriage commitments from national providers DirecTV and AT&T, as well as roughly 100 smaller Midwest cable operators.

And the moral of the story is: Don't count your chickens until after they've roosted. Very few schools have a football program that is self-supporting. To claim that this will ever happen at BigU is delusional. Mr. B. has no interest in television. But he points out that BTN won't even be showing the Big Kahuna games. They are already sold to someone else. Very few people outside of Ohio will want to see Ohio State play Akron. The Indiana / NU game? Even as an NU grad, I'd pass on that one.

Ciao, Bonzo

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