Big Ten Network certainly was true to its schools with strategic campaigns aimed at spreading awareness, generating excitement for its football and basketball seasons, supporting operators who carry the network and generating goodwill among Big Ten schools. As a result, it scored big time.

Rather than promoting the athletic conference as a whole, the campaign drilled down to uncover the unique traditions and quirky rituals of each school. Individually tailored print, taggable TV spots on ESPN, Fox and Big Ten, Web banners and affiliate kits were employed to build the brand by highlighting individual Big Ten schools.

TV spots incorporated emotion and humor: The Ohio State promo took viewers through venerable Buckeye Grove; the Michigan spot celebrated the long-standing Wolverines’ pre-game introduction ritual.


  • Big Ten tripled its number of subscribers and reached 96% penetration via carriage deals with Bright House, Comcast, Cox, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable.

  • The network became available in 43 of the top 50 national markets and now has national agreements with 10 of the top 12 cable operators.

  • For afternoon football games, ratings increased by 113% from a 0.8 in 2007 to a 1.7 household rating in 2008. Audiences more than doubled in some markets, including Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.

  • The non-conference men’s basketball 2008 season ended with an estimated 77% increase in household viewers when compared to the 2007 season. In the Indianapolis market, some games delivered 83% more viewers than the most-viewed from 2007.

  • The Big Ten Network’s Conference Men’s Basketball 2009 season is tracking at an estimated 161% increase in national household viewers over 2008.

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Honorable Mentions:

ABC Family for A New Kind of… ABC Family Branding Campaign: Rebranding itself as a destination for original cutting-edge series was a family affair when ABC Family launched its campaign aimed squarely at its millennial target audience. To quash the lingering stereotype that the network was home to mostly old movies and syndicated reruns, ABC Family let the hipster stars of its original series Kyle XY, Wildfire and Greek introduce its new image and super-bright logo via creative TV spots.

Fuse for Music Is…: Fuse needed to break through the cacophony by repositioning itself as a more of a mainstream music channel and moving beyond its indie roots. As part of that shift, the network conceived a campaign that leveraged its connections with up-and-coming artists who could remind the 18-34 target audience of music’s emotional connections. These artists created multimedia projects the network then showcased across print, television and the Internet. A funky downtown New York launch party in a loft decked out to resemble a gallery sealed the deal. In a poll, a healthy 35% of those surveyed said they would watch Fuse in the future.

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