Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman has high expectations for what Rutgers and Maryland can do in building the station into an even stronger brand. Speaking after the official move of the Scarlet Knights into the Big Ten conference, Silverman broke down more details on what Rutgers fans can expect on the Big Ten Network.
ScarletReport.com was on hand, and presents an easy-to-ready Q&A format of the roundtable discussion.
On the Rutgers move to the BTN
Silverman -- “We've had a bit of a whirlwind the last few days, but the network is here [in New Jersey]. We're just really excited at this stage of where we are with Rutgers and Maryland joining us. It's a chance for the network to reach a new level.
“We're continuing to grow, but adding the New York/New Jersey area, adding the Maryland and D.C. area, adding two new universities ... it's really a great chance for us to take the network to a new level - continue to grow and get better. We're all excited to take it that way.
On the numbers
Silverman -- “We will be around 60 million homes come football kickoff this late August. This is 60 million total homes. I'm not sure exactly how many we're going to add because there's still a bunch of deals that are in flux. We've gotten our two big deals in New York City done with Time Warner and Cable Vision. Comcast is huge in New Jersey and Maryland, and that deal has been agreed to. We'll be adding millions of homes, and that's really the goal of the network.
“Be in front of as many people as you can, and try to reach the people that can get you to watch you as much as possible. That's one of the reasons I think our network really offers this broad array, a multitude of sports. We're not just a one-sport-centric network. The fact that Big Ten alums live all over the country, as Jim [Delany] mention about a national footprint and a national conference, I don't think there's anyone even close that can represent being a national conference the way the Big Ten can.
“[That is] from a lot of factors -- filling up its stadiums more than anyone else, the largest alumni base of anyone, more students than anyone else, more dispersed alums than anyone else. It really gives you these ingredients that can afford you the ability to build a network like ours and try to build viewership from all over the country, not just certain pockets.”
On Rutgers past ratings
Silverman -- “You don't have to go too far back in recent history to see what happens when Rutgers has an extremely successful football program. [They have] numbers that are the envy of must schools, especially in the New York market. It's an indicator of everywhere else in the country. We've definitely seen what can happen in that scenario.
“We believe the ingredients -- being the official school of New Jersey, the types of recruits that come out of the state of New Jersey, a higher level of competition than ever before, receiving increased funding for the athletic program. The ingredients are there, and we are pretty confident that it's a great place for Rutgers athletics to be today. The future looks really bright.”
Silverman -- “We have yet to really bring our studio crew on site for a big, game-day like celebration. We were really excited to get that [Penn State] game. We thought that would be a great first time to do this. Following that up with Michigan ... if we can have a couple of those early games, I think the fan base will quickly be thrilled and excited and really start this groundswell of increased support for the school. We're very happy to have those two early games. My guess is we'll have another home Rutgers game before the year is out.”
Is New York a college town?
Silverman -- “I consider New York a great sports town. Similar to Chicago, there are extremely successful professional franchises that are in most major markets. I consider New York to be a place that watches a ton of college football on Saturdays and watches a ton of college basketball. It's big enough to be categorized as a general sports town. I think Jets and Giants fans can be Rutgers fans. I think Knicks and Nets fans can be Rutgers fans. I think it's an opportunity to showcase what makes college sports special.”
“When I watch college sports, there is something about college-age students. There are people at the game for the love of their school, and have gone to those schools at their formative years -- 18 to 22 years old. When they went to these schools, they might have met their wives, they bring their kids to these games. There's an emotional connection to collegiate sports that our fans have that I think is unique and special. I think we can grow that in any town across the country.”
On BTN analysts studying Rutgers.
Silverman -- “It's a challenge because it's a lot to learn. Our team prides itself on being experts on the schools in our conference. They've been watching a lot of tape. Gerry DiNardo is an ex-coach. He's used to watching a lot of tape. Howard [Griffith] is an ex-football player. He's used to watching a lot of tape.
“They've been studying, learning. They understand what offenses, defenses these two schools run, their history, what they're going to need to do to be successful in the Big Ten. They're going to talk about how successful or not they think they're going to be. They'll talk about it. Our producers, our production assistants, our talent, everyone has been in the film room. They're studying up because once the season comes on, we've got to know the Rutgers football program better than anyone else knows the Rutgers football program that you can watch on television. That's our hurdle. We have to do that. We're going to make sure that we're able to do so.”