Touchdown for the Big Ten

By Meghan Montemurro

Big Ten sports fans throughout the Midwest can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Comcast Corporation and the Big Ten Network announced Thursday that a long-term agreement has been reached for Comcast to carry the Big Ten Network on television, broadband and video on demand. The announcement comes in time for the 2008 football season, and the state of Illinois will see coverage for the Big Ten Network increase its reach to 87 percent of households.

“We are pleased that Comcast is now on board,” said Illinois Director of Athletics Ron Guenther in the press release. “The Big Ten Network had a terrific first year. With the added distribution, Illinois fans in the state will now have additional opportunities to see the type of quality athletics we have in the Big Ten Conference.”

Comcast will launch the network initially on its expanded basic level of service for promotional purposes to a majority of customers with Big Ten universities in their residing state under the terms of the agreement. This includes the majority of customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia region will be distributed on a digital level of service. Iowa does not have Comcast and will still be without the network on cable carriers. Service begins August 15.

“When introduced last year, the Big Ten Network offered the academic communities of the conference schools an unprecedented opportunity to publicize their educational accomplishments,” Chancellor Richard Herman said. “As an academic leader, I am thrilled by the additional exposure of, not only our athletic teams, but our great faculty and students as well.”

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Comcast will have the opportunity to move the Big Ten Network’s service to a broadly distributed level in spring 2009. Digital customers will have access to live Big Ten games and events in high definition as well as content on and Comcast’s video on demand Big Ten programming.

Big Ten Commissioner James Delany said he was pleased with the agreement.

“On behalf of Big Ten presidents, faculty, administrators, players, coaches, alumni and fans, we congratulate Comcast and the Big Ten Network on reaching an agreement to bring Big Ten programming to millions of fans in the eight Big Ten states and millions more alumni and fans nationwide,” Delany said. “We are very pleased with this partnership.”