Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Big Ten Network Interception

As of this writing, the Big Ten Network is still the Big Zero Network for customers of Ohio's largest cable TV multi-system operator, Time Warner Cable.

And it doesn't likely to change anytime soon, with full knowledge by fans that the most important Ohio State Buckeyes football games (i.e. OSU-Michigan) will be telecast in their full glory on good old ABC or ESPN.

Alternatives include DirecTV, which is the primary partner with the BTN folks - FOX owns a share of both the new network and of DirecTV itself - and the new AT&T-driven IP-cable service U-verse, which is available in parts of Northeast Ohio.

Some smaller cable outlets, including Wadsworth's city cable system and Toledo-based Buckeye Cablesystem, have signed up - but you don't have a traditional cable TV choice in Northern Ohio unless you, well, move to an area served by a different system.

The untold story is that BTN offers several channels on game day.

If, for example, the Appalachian State upset (heh!) of Michigan was the primary game, you could tune to another channel to watch the Buckeyes and Coach Jim Tressel beat his former team, the Youngstown State University Penguins.

Or you could tune to another channel to watch another Big Ten Network game.

Well, at least you could on DirecTV.

No less an authority than Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter George M. Thomas, an OMW reader now covering the Buckeyes for his newspaper, checks in to tell us that AT&T's fancy new U-verse system did not offer OSU-YSU at all:

What they do not tell you is that they don’t carry overflow games. What’s this mean? Last week’s Appalachian State-Michigan game was the primary game. THAT is what U-verse customers got. Not OSU-YSU.

They claim to not have room for overflow channels and to be working on the problem. End result? Any OSU football games broadcast there will be hit and miss.

Can you say "oops"?

U-verse is new, and is still working out many of the kinks, we'd imagine. We'd be surprised if this "one BTN channel only" deal lasts very long, considering the long-term nature of the Time Warner Cable/BTN dispute.

The Columbus Dispatch's Michael Arace jumps in with his own commentary in a column from Tuesday's Dispatch. And while Buckeye Nation may not be clamoring for Ohio State-Akron on TV this Sunday, the growing OSU basketball fan base may not be happy to be reminded of this:

BTN is gearing up to air 64 Big Ten regular-season men's basketball games.

It's one thing to miss a Northwestern-Northeastern football game. It's something else to miss 10 Illinois basketball games, eight Michigan State basketball games, seven Ohio State basketball games and six Indiana basketball games. The BTN also has rights to three conference tournament games.

Ah, the hometown interest, and leveraging fans of the second most popular Big Ten sport around these parts, basketball. (Remember, the basketball Buckeyes also played for a national title last season - and also lost to Florida. And we were trying to forget that one...) And in places like Indiana, they'll tear down the baskets if they can't watch a large enough number of Hoosiers games.

We remember the old days.

Oh, say, 2006...when all of the games that were aired on TV were on either over-air TV, or on widely available cable networks that are carried on just about every system in America - for no extra charge beyond the expanded basic tier fee.

But, there's more money to be made this way...for the conference, that is...


David said...

Yes, it was a shame that people were forced to watch one of the biggest college upsets of all-time as opposed to the alternative of snoozing their way through Ohio State poking the armpits of the Penguins of Youngstown State.

It's not like any major Ohio State games are going to be exclusive to the Big Ten Network, so would it be too much to please ask that folks, including George Thomas, get a grip?

WERC alum said...

Hey Dave,

How did you know, in adavance, that Appalachian State was going to pull off the upset, and not Youngstown State?

Had OSU gone down instead of UM, would that have made a difference?

Scott said...

I have U-Verse, and they added the overflow channels today. So we now have them all. BTN is 650 and 1250.

The overflows are 643, 644, 645, 646.

Travis said...

For whatever it's worth, Dish Network inked a deal with BTN earlier... you'll find it on channel 439

Robert Leu said...

Here's the story on Big Ten and Dish:
EchoStar's Dish Picks Up Big Ten Network (TV Week)

Also, the overflow games will be on Dish channels 440 through 443.

David said...

werc alum, I'm just saying that God works in very mysterious ways.

And nope, if OSU had gone down instead of Michigan, it would have made no difference whatsoever.

asl10 said...

It is my understanding the Big Ten Network broadcasts some of their games in HD. The specific question is how many (if any) of the HD games are broadcast on DirecTV? U-Verse? Dish?