And therefore removing any doubt that items just fall together here, with no particular rhyme or reason...until they start running together coherently, as if by magic...
BIG TEN, NOT YET: An OMW reader tipped us to this article on the "Bucknuts" site, which is an independent sports news site catering to All Things Athletic concerning The Ohio State University. (We hear there's a state law prohibiting one from referring to that big university in Columbus without using the article "The" in front. We can't afford the fines.)
The article features a visit to Buckeye Nation from Mark Silverman, the president of the new Big Ten Network. The cable/satellite network will showcase all the conference's sports that don't already air on major network or cable outlets like ABC, ESPN and the like - including football and basketball games that used to air on "ESPNPlus", the local/regional syndicator.
This line in the article caught our reader's eyes:
And unlike other startup networks such as NFL Network and ESPNU, Big Ten Network has enjoyed immediate success reaching deals with such broadcasting giants as DirectTV and Time Warner (TW serves 65 percent of the cable customers in Central Ohio).
We don't remember reading anything about a deal between Time Warner Cable and the Big Ten Network, so we asked our contact with TWC's Northeast Ohio operations, long-time VP Bill Jasso.
Jasso tells OMW that there is no TWC deal with "BTN", at least not at this time:
Yes, the article does sound like we have a deal, but we don't. Any deal would be statewide at least, and probably national in scope.
Mr. Jasso says that there are "serious talks" going on between Time Warner and the Big Ten Network, though, and he'll let us know when there's anything to tell.
We suspect there will be a deal, at least in Ohio, given the popularity of the Buckeyes. But the "Bucknuts" article repeats something we've heard, as well:
A media member cited a published report that stated the Big Ten Network wanted $1.10 per customer from the cable/satellite providers and asked if that was a possible sticking point with negotiations and if the BTN came down off of that figure.
“I can’t comment on particulars,” Silverman said. “But what I can tell you is that we are looking for are two types of deals: There’s a deal for the eight states within the Big Ten, and there’s a deal for the states outside of the eight. Those deals vary tremendously and we believe the deals we have on the table are fair.”
That $1.10 figure we've seen in trade reports is apparently for those eight Big Ten states - cablers outside the Big Ten region would be charged something on the order of 10 cents a customer.
Again, this assumes that a national deal isn't struck with, for example, TWC.
One Ohio cable company has already agreed to carry the Big Ten Network. Multichannel News reports that Toledo's Buckeye Cablesystem has signed up for All Big Ten, All The Time TV. Buckeye will also carry the HD feed the BTN folks will offer...
WHILE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HD SPORTS: Good news for Cleveland Browns fans with high-definition TV sets.
CBS, the broadcast network which carries AFC games - and thus, carries the bulk of the Browns' schedule - is ramping up HDTV coverage of its NFL games.
A network spokeswoman tells some media writers - including San Diego Union-Tribune sports media writer Jay Posner, who had first word - that CBS will carry "up to 6" NFL games each week in HDTV format.
Jay's item - in the article linked above - says "5 or 6". Each of the Sunday daytime NFL carriers, CBS and FOX, generally have no more than 6 games per week.
On FOX, the odd-game-out is usually upconverted from SD to 720p HD widescreen. On CBS, the non-HD games will still be - as far as we know - in non-widescreen SD.
The count by those keeping track: only 7 of CBS's 107 games in 2007 will not be in HD, and at least six weeks in the NFL season will have ALL games in HD on all network carriers.
Of course, the Browns being the Browns...watch them land some of those non-HD games. But many, many more Browns games will be in HD this coming season, and the NFL has decreed that all games for all teams will be in HD in 2008...
AND THE "FUNNY" PART: Anyone who's watched late night Cleveland TV the past few years is well aware of Marc Norton, the owner of Norton's Furniture - and his odd TV commercials. You know, the ones which end with him saying "...and you can count on it".
It would appear Mr. Norton is trying to branch out.
We noticed that he's putting a new website URL onscreen during his TV spots - themarcnortonshow.net.
So, we visited, and it appears he's trying to expand his self-made commercial presence into a media business. The site offers "The Marc Norton Show" on video for $1.39 an episode ("First Episode Now Available!"), along with links to his TV spots and other related material, including outtakes.
Quoting - we believe - the furniture store owner and would-be TV producer, as posted on the site:
I have become popular all over the North East Ohio, and even the nation. I have been shown on show such as Midnight Madness and Talk Soup. I am in negotions with major TV networks as well as talk radio superstars! Be sure you have the ability to Laugh out loud when you move into my site, I don't want to be responsible for you getting fired when your boss sees you having too much fun.
We say "we believe" because the site spells his first name "Mark" in most of its writings, despite the correct spelling even being in the URL for it...