Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hello Manitowoc! Comcast and Big Ten Network reach accord

Big Ten fans in a couple small pockets of Wisconsin can crack a Schlitz: they'll be getting the Big Ten Network on cable TV in 2008. From what I can tell, that means that customers in Manitowoc and in the Twin Cities market in western Wisconsin will receive the Big Ten Network on expanded basic cable starting on August 15, with the option to move the station to the digital tier in Spring 2009. (Viewers outside of the Big Ten states might have to buy a sports tier at that point to continue to get BTN.)

The good news is that this is the first breakthrough between BTN and a major cable provider in Big Ten country, meaning further deals may be possible. The bad news is that in much of Wisconisn, the local cable monopoly is Charter, and Milwaukee is served by Time-Warner -- neither of which appears to be enthusiastic about picking up BTN, even at a compromised price.

Still, there's hope that Comcast was the first in a series of dominoes to topple and that cable subscribers in America's Dairyland may soon be able to see their Badgers without switching providers.