|June 19, 2008
Barta comments on Big Ten Network agreement with Comcast
University of Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta issued the following statement in response to the announcement that the Big Ten Network has reached an agreement with Comcast cable:
Earlier today the Big Ten Network and Comcast, the nation’s largest cable television provider, announced a long-term multimedia agreement that more than doubles the number homes in which the network is available inside the eight Big Ten Conference states.
While Comcast does not deliver cable television inside the state of Iowa, this agreement nonetheless is very positive news for all friends and fans of the University of Iowa and the other ten member institutions of the Big Ten Conference, and, specifically, those who could receive their cable television service from Comcast. Included in this latter group, for example, are more than 30,000 alumni of the University of Iowa and parents of current UI students who live in the greater Chicagoland area.
As a result of today’s agreement, the Big Ten Network is now available on “expanded basic,” or the most widely penetrated level of service offered by cable and satellite television companies in more than 13 million homes in the “Big Ten Country.”
Nationally, the network is now available in more than 55 million homes.
The Big Ten Network now has more than 230 agreements with cable television companies, including 88 locally owned and locally operated cable television companies in the state of Iowa. The Network also has distribution agreements with the nation’s two largest satellite television companies, DirecTV and Dish Network.
My peers in the Big Ten Conference believe the Comcast agreement – like all the agreements that preceded it – clearly demonstrates the Big Ten Network’s flexibility and willingness to reach an agreement where everyone benefits: consumers, Big Ten universities, and cable and satellite television companies.
We also believe this agreement further validates the quality and the consumer demand for the programming offered by the Big Ten Network.
I know that the fans who have the network love it – and during the past nine months they were able to watch approximately 80 events involving University of Iowa teams representing more than 160 hours of programming. During the 2008-09 academic year, the Big Ten Network will not only will continue to deliver the same quantity of University of Iowa programming as it did a year ago, but will broadcast more than 400 total events while also making an additional 400 events available via streaming video.
As noted above, 88 locally-owned and locally-operated cable television companies in the state of Iowa offer the network to their consumers as part of their basic cable. Currently, slightly more than 50 percent of the homes in Iowa have access to the Big Ten Network via a local cable television company.
Many Iowans have elected to receive the Big Ten Network via a subscription to either DirecTV or Dish Network, the nation’s largest satellite television providers. Both offer the network on a level of service equivalent to expanded basic on cable. Unfortunately, for some Iowans cable is their only option.
As you know, to date, Mediacom, the state of Iowa’s largest cable television company and the eighth largest cable television company in the country with principal executive offices located in Middletown, NY, does not offer the Big Ten Network to Iowans or any of its more than 1.9 million basic or digital cable television customers.
With the Comcast agreement completed, Big Ten Network officials will now begin new negotiations with Mediacom. I remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached.
STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000.
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