I want my Big Ten Network

Higher taxes, decreased services, increased crime, atrocious construction—these are the issues that make city residents furious. But last December, absent these circumstances, I’ve never seen more rage in my pleasant home town of Madison, WI. Why? The Green Bay Packers were playing on the NFL Network and the local cable companies refused to carry the network. Listen to the radio or squeeze into an over-packed neighborhood bar — this was a decision Madisonians didn’t want to have to make.

This is a scenario that could play out again in Midwest sports towns, with the launch of the Big Ten Network (BTN) in August. BTN will air 35+ football games, 105+ Men’s basketball games, and 55+ Women’s basketball games a year, in addition to other sports and academic programming. The network currently has national agreements in place with DirecTV and AT&T but many cable operators are still holding-out. This includes Comcast, which responded to BTN sharply:

Indiana basketball fans don’t want to watch Iowa volleyball, but the Big Ten wants everyone to pay for their new network.

Now, BTN is turning to the grassroots to get Comcast and other providers to pay-up (link):

To get the Big Ten Network, Penn State fans should visit www.BigTenNetwork.com and enter your zip code, which will then provide a link to the cable providers in your area, as well as DirecTV and Dish Network, to make a request for them to carry the Big Ten Network.

Back to Madison, WI: cable-subscribing Badger fans are set to be in-the-dark when it comes to the BTN. And, while a lot of reader are outraged at Charter (the dominant local provider), one man is equally ticked-off at the Big Ten:

Commissioner Jim Delany needs to get real about charging Wisconsin fans millions of dollars to watch his new Big Ten Network — the second most expensive national cable channel in the country — which will air what sports columnists are now calling "fifth tier" sporting events such as nonconference tune-up football games and university swim meets.

In order to salvage the BTN into a profit-making venture, Delany says that he will try to migrate to his network many games from the ABC and ESPN networks, thus asking consumers to pay premium fees for many of the games they used to be able to see for free.

But moving the games to the expensive new channel could reduce revenues to our schools and dramatically hurt recruiting efforts. Many high school stars who don’t live in Big Ten states could be effectively shut out of viewing Big Ten games.

To be selfish: as a DC resident with the prospect of getting more Big Ten games out-of-market, I’ll be the first to say: I want my MTV Big Ten Network.