BTN’s next stop Mediacom?

The Big Ten Network’s deal with Comcast last week could set the dominoes in motion for other cable companies this summer, including Mediacom, to pick up the fledgling sports network.

Comcast will pay the Big Ten Network reportedly between 60 and 70 cents per customer in Big Ten states and place the network on its expanded basic tier through spring 2009. Comcast then can shift the BTN to a widely distributed digital tier (which will happen anyway with the death of analog next year). This is good news for Mediacom subscribers.

Fans understandably were upset last year when they couldn’t watch football or basketball games. Many fans called school administrators or sports reporters, including myself, to vent because they couldn’t get through to Mediacom or Big Ten Network reps. The whole point of starting the Big Ten Network was to provide exposure to the league’s schools. Instead, the distribution issue set the league back 20 years in television time for big cable customers.

With its recent deal, the Big Ten Network recognized it needed the cable companies a little more than big cable needed the BTN. The network was flexible in its deal with Comcast. If the Big Ten Network provides similar flexibility to Mediacom, this saga could come to a close by late August.

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