CHICAGO – The new Big Ten Network officially launches in prime time at 7 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, Aug. 30, with the evening also marking the inaugural telecast of Big Ten Tonight, the network's signature studio-based news, information and highlight show. The announcement was made today by Big Ten Network President, Mark Silverman. In addition, the network today achieved distribution commitments for more than 75 local cable systems serving communities in the eight states where Big Ten institutions are located. These commitments, which demonstrate the network's broad appeal, account for hundreds of thousands of cable subscribers spanning Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of whom will receive Big Ten Network on an expanded basic level of service.
The official launch comes two days before the kick-off of the 2007 Big Ten college football season. Big Ten Tonight, hosted by Dave Revsine, will preview the upcoming season and closely examine all of the weekend's conference teams in action. Big Ten Network's first-ever game coverage begins at 11 a.m. Central Time Sept. 1, with regional coverage of Appalachian State at Michigan; Youngstown State visiting BCS championship runner-up Ohio State; Florida International at Penn State; and Northeastern University at Northwestern. In prime time, the network will air Bowling Green at Minnesota and Indiana State at Indiana. Most of these football games, and the vast majority of Big Ten Network football throughout the season, will be produced in state-of the-art high definition (HD). All games will be made available to distributors who carry the network so that fans everywhere can see the games that matter to them most.
"With these commitments, we're well on our way toward ensuring that roughly half the subscribers to smaller cable systems across the Midwest have better access to their favorite Big Ten schools and teams than anytime in history," Silverman said. "As we continue discussions with the largest national cable system operators, we're pleased to know that so many of these Midwestern communities will have the network available to them on expanded basic."
Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany agreed. "The Big Ten is more than a series of isolated athletic events. It's a collection of premier institutions and devotion to excellence that unites this entire region," he said. "Big Ten Network reflects those values, and we appreciate these community-based cable systems' shared commitment to the network."
Some of the local systems planning to carry Big Ten Network as part of their expanded basic level of service include Altatec Alta Municipal Utility, Cedar Falls Utilities, Celect Communications, Consolidated Communications Network Services, City of Wadsworth Cable TV, Dixon Telephone Company, Grundy Center Municipal, Harlan Municipal Utilities, Hiawatha Broadband, Horizon Telecom, Independence Communications, Iowa Network Services, Mid-Century Communications, Moultrie Telecommunications, Muscatine Power & Water, Oneida Cablevision, Spencer Municipal Utilities, The Community Agency and USA Communications. In addition, Big Ten Network has national distribution agreements with DirectTV and the new AT&T U-verseSM service, as well as a major regional agreement with Buckeye Cable.
In addition to its 24-hour standard and HD channels, the Big Ten Network will also offer distributors a dynamic video-on-demand programming service and a rich broadband video package for their high-speed Internet customers. All of these offerings are available at a combined fee that is 2/3 less than what Comcast charges for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
Big Ten Network will produce the Big Ten Tonight nightly studio show and more live events (and more women's athletics events) in HD than any other new network in television history. Big Ten Network recently announced a commitment to gender equality by 2010, when all Big Ten Network-controlled television, Internet and mobile media will provide equal men's and women's athletic coverage.
The Big Ten Conference is the majority owner of Big Ten Network, with its proceeds divided equally among the 11 conference member universities. These proceeds will assist Big Ten Conference member institutions in operating their respective athletic programs in a self-sustaining manner, without university subsidy or allocation of state funding, enabling additional revenue to flow to research, the arts and other scholastic endeavors.
Shortly after its Aug. 30 premiere, and throughout the new 2007-2008 academic year, Big Ten Network will begin working with Big Ten institutions to become part of the curriculum and incorporate student production from Big Ten Network-sponsored campus facilities into its core operations. Big Ten Network and its partners have similarly committed to professional internships for Big Ten students and career placement services in their own major media operations.
About the Big Ten Network: Launching this August, the Big Ten Network is dedicated to covering the Big Ten Conference and its 11 member institutions. The Big Ten Network will provide unprecedented access to an extensive schedule of conference sports events and shows; original programs in academics, the arts and sciences; campus activities; and associated personalities. Sports programming will include live coverage of more major men's and women's events than ever before, along with news, highlights and analysis, all complemented by hours of university-produced campus programming. The network is available to all cable and satellite carriers and television distributors nationwide, with most programs offered in stunning high-definition television (HDTV). The Big Ten Network is a joint venture between subsidiaries of the Big Ten Conference and Fox Cable Networks. For more information regarding the Big Ten Network, visit www.BigTenNetwork.com.