The Big Ten Network has struck carriage deals with Comcast in Maryland and New Jersey, increasing their coverage into new markets before Rutgers and Maryland officially join the conference on July 1st. It’s the second, and probably final, deal in the Big Ten’s new markets following their great deal with Time Warner and Cablevision in New York.
Terms weren’t immediately disclosed, but you can go ahead and assume that the conference will be adding millions upon millions of dollars to its coffers. The major reason that the conference even considered adding Maryland and Rutgers was to penetrate the DC and New York markets, and they’ve done a pretty good job of that before the season has even begun.
It’s not easy to break into new markets, but BTN has a lot more pull than something like the SEC Network, Pac-12 Networks, or (especially) the Longhorn Network, which are babies in comparison to the veteran BTN. Hell, the SEC Network is six weeks from launch, and even with ESPN backing the project, it still hasn’t inked much in the way of carriage deals. Going into year three of their existence, we haven’t heard much of anything involving the Pac-12 Networks and their stalemate with DirecTV in nearly a year. Longhorn Network is heading into year four, and new carriage deals remain few and far between.
I’m stunned at the BTN’s relative ease in pulling these deals off. Then again, Fox is the majority owner of the network, and they were still able to get Fox Sports 1 on every major provider prior to launch despite early difficulties (largely by lowering the rate they were targeting from providers). I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is what happened in these new markets for BTN – but hey, a little less money is better than no money, right?