After launching What Is the Big Ten Deal, a Web response to the Big Ten Network’s carriage demands, Insight Communications signed a deal to carry the network.
It’s now the only major cable operator to strike a deal with Fox — which has been demanding expanded basic carriage and an additional $1.10/month per subscriber in Big Ten states — before tomorrow’s launch.
The companies reached a compromise that puts BTN on Insight’s Classic or expanded basic cable package in its markets with Buckeye and Hoosier fans, and on digital cable in its Kentucky systems. Terms were not disclosed, although Insight’s statement alludes to finding financial wriggle room that won’t entail passing along costs in the form of rate hikes to customers.
"We are pleased that we have reached a reasonable agreement with the Big Ten Network," said Insight CEO Michael Willner. "We know that our customers who are college sports fans will be very excited to watch their favorite teams, starting this Saturday when Buckeye fans can watch Ohio State take on Youngstown."
"We are carrying the channel as part of our Classic service in the communities we serve in Columbus, Ohio and Evansville, Indiana which are in the heart of Big Ten territory. In the rest of our cable systems, which are located primarily in Big East and SEC territory (in Kentucky), we will provide the channel on our Digital 2.0 tier alongside our other specialized sports programming."
The service will be available to approximately 640,000 customers. Insight’s Kentucky subscribers can check out BTN on expanded basic in a two-week free preview on Insight Classic before it moves to digital.
"We’re happy to add Insight to our growing list of distribution partners," BTN president Mark Silverman said in a statement. "Insight is a leading distributor in several key communities in the Midwest, so we are especially pleased that their customers will be able to watch all of the Big Ten games."
Insight’s website urges Big Ten fans who subscribe to Dish Network or WOW (WideOpenWest) to switch providers. BTN also launches tomorrow on DirecTV, AT&T’s U-verse and more than 75 smaller cable operators. Fox was unable to conclude pre-launch carriage deals with Comcast or Time Warner Cable’s Midwest systems.
BTN will offer 400 live events per year, including 39 football games, 140 regular-season basketball games, more than 55 women’s basketball games, Big Ten Championships, soccer, field hockey, volleyball, baseball, wrestling and all of the other NCAA championship sports.
It’s also promising to produce more HD programming than any new network in history, offering more than 1,000 hours of original HD content in its first year.