Can The Big Ten Network win?

Teddy Greenstein in today’s Trib talks about the soon-to-launch Big Ten Network and how it is struggling to get carriage among the Midwest’s biggest cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner, Wide Open West, and Charter systems. The Big Ten Network also wants to be on an expanded sports tier, and not a pay-for-play sports tier.

BTN officials point that the channel would be more valuable than the two current sports on Comcast’s systems in Chicago – The Golf Channel and Versus, the latter drawing very poor ratings in the Chicago market (which isn’t good for the NHL, who has a deal with Versus and needs its struggling Chicago Blackhawks franchise to become a powerful force in the league again. The NHL draft on June 22 drew just 4,000 viewers in Chicago, even behind dud – say it with me everybody – National Bingo Night.)

The network plans to air collegiate Big Ten sports, including football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and Olympic sports, plus a nightly sports show.

Meanwhile, Michigan congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) has asked the Big Ten Network for information on negotiations BTN is having with cable operators in his home state. Constituents have complained to him that no cable systems in Michigan are carrying BTN, meaning that Michigan and Michigan State fans may be shut out of watching some football and basketball games.

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