Big Ten TV introduces new content

By Kate Szyszka

The usual tailgates, Block I shirts and hordes of fans will be joined by a more prominent addition during this fall’s football season.

The Big Ten Network is now providing a new television channel filled with athletic programming for University students. Even though the network launched 18 months ago, Comcast Cable recently added it to its programming.

However, this network does not only include football games, but a wide variety of other sports and student-based academic programming.

“We recognized that the world of TV and sports continually evolves and changes,” said Mark Rudner, associate commissioner for the Big Ten Network. “We wanted to be a part of that change.”

The network has seen a great deal of success since it launched.

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“The great strength of the conference over time has been the access to younger people,” Rudner said.

Each University participating in the Big Ten Network will have 60 hours available for non-athletic programming, said Robin Kaler, University spokeswoman.

The University will be showing documentaries of Ebertfest and the Blue Waters Project.

“We’re seeing this as an opportunity to reach a large audience and tell stories in a way that we couldn’t in the past,” Kaler said.

The network allows the University to display information to a broad range of viewers in a way not possible through e-mail, Web sites and other less interactive methods.

“We want to make pieces that will be of interest to many people,” Kaler said. “This allows us to tell a story in a new and exciting way.”

Sports will also receive a great deal of attention with this network.

“Big Ten is really set to cover all events,” said Kent Brown, assistant athletic director for Media Relations. “We will cover football, basketball, women’s gymnastics, baseball, softball and men’s soccer.”

There are also opportunities for student internships with the Big Ten network, Brown said.

“The internships are a way for students to gain hands-on experience,” he said. “There is a studio on campus where students have the chance to work with video staff and gain real life experience.”

There are also specific shows unique to Illinois that cover sports on the network.

“There are studio shows every Saturday that discuss action in the conference,” said Brown. “There are also tailgate shows every Friday, which are a good way to show people the spirit of the community on campus.”