Thursday, June 5, 2008

God bless the Big Ten Network

One of the best things about starting Badgercentric has been hearing from people I haven't seen or been in contact with since college. Last week I got an email from Jake Fisher, a friend of some friends in school who was always fun to talk sports with, a really good guy.

Jake relayed to me that while he's moved around quite a bit after college before landing in Kentucky, he has remained a devoted follower of Badger athletics. A new television option has helped him. "God bless the Big Ten Network!" he writes.

This is exactly what the BTN was created for: to allow Big Ten alumni and potential students (and presumably athletes) in places like Kentucky to see exactly what the conference has to offer. Unfortunately, as has been well-documented, the network did not have its bases covered when it comes to cable carriage, which has meant that many people in Wisconsin, let alone Kentucky, have been shut out from Badger and other Big Ten sports.

I suppose we can only have faith that the BTN will eventually have widespread distribution and there will be lots of people out there like Jake who couldn't fathom living without it.


Frank said...

In 2006-07, in Colorado, I caught every Badgers conference basketball game (and a good portion of non-conf) between regular cable and ESPN Game Plan. Every game. In 2007-08, I had less than half the conference games available to me. I had to go to a Buffalo Wild Wings the night they clinched the Big Ten against Penn State, and after trying to help the staff figure out what game/channel I wanted, it was put on -- a small corner TV I wasn't that close to, no sound.

So, God bless the Big Ten Network? I'd prefer to replace "God bless" with another term.

I think the jury is pretty much in at this point -- professional leagues or college conferences that wanted to cash in with their own network have had way more bad publicity and red ink than anything close to the results they wanted.

Millie said...

As someone who was late to the BTN party, I just don't understand the vitriol by some. If you can have a dish installed where you live it's a no-brainer. The quality of DirecTV is better, it's cheaper than cable and it was worth it for the BTN alone.

I feel bad for people in apartments or people who can't install a dish for one reason or another, but those who can are on some principle-laden crusade that I don't understand.

Corby said...

I am a cable guy, and I will NOT switch to satellite to get the BTN or any other network, just as if I was a satellite guy I would not switch to cable for the same reasons. You should not have to.

I think if they don't get it figured out soon the Big Ten network is going to do more harm than good to the casual observer. As I have written in the past, I am more of a casual watcher than a diehard...if it is on I will watch but I do not set my clock by it, and because it's not on, I am not watching it.

It is kind of like what happened with the Brewers and Cubs. Growing up I was a Cubs fan because they were always on WGN and I could watch them almost daily. Now that the Brewers games are broadcast almost daily, my allegiance has switched to them. Pretty soon I will be a Duke or NC fan because, as we all know, that is all that is usually on ESPN.

I will just continue to turn to Badgercentric for all my Bucky news.

Will said...

Not sure if the Big Ten Network is ever coming to New York, but for football season I ended up going to the "Wisconsin" bar in the City for the games shown on BTN. The owner is from Wisconsin, the atmosphere is fun and even though I don't know any of the fellow alums, I usually end up talking to someone friendly during the game.

I do miss not having the Big Ten network during basketball season. Would have loved to see more of the team this past year.

Has there been any discussion of charging an online subscription, like MLB? Do you think there would be enough interest?

Millie said...

Everyone can make that decision for themselves, but I just don't get it I guess. If you are able to put up a dish, I don't see why you wouldn't. Like I said, I think the quality is better, it's actually cheaper than cable (at least here in MN), and it gets me what I really want (BTN). To me it's a no-brainer.

Scott Tappa said...

What it boils down to is this: are you a big enough fan to go through the hassle of changing your television service provider? Thankfully I didn't have to make the choice, but likely would have.

But I understand where Corby's coming from completely. I would consider my dad, who lives a 3-pointer away from Jon, a big Badger fan, yet he didn't make the switch.

Scott Tappa said...

That's a good question, Will. The Big Ten Network's website is pretty robust for a brand-new entity, and it would make sense for them to capitalize on the investment they're making in generating this programming by distributing in as many media as possible.

Maybe an On Demand service like HBO has would make sense - pick your school.

I imagine this will be a hot topic at the summer football meetings next month.

Schwalbach, what did you ever end up doing about the BTN?

Millie said...

I'm not sure that it makes sense for the BTN to have an online offering, especially in an a la carte model. Doesn't that take away a bit of the Big Ten's leverage? If people can go online to get the school of their choice, it lessens the cable companies need to get the channel on their lineup, simply because the most die-hard fans that haven't already switched will go to the online offering.