After months of haggling between Mediacom and The Big Ten Network, it was announced late Thursday that the two had agreed to come to terms to allow the cable provider to show the channel on their system. Speculation had been rampant since Comcast had come to an agreement with the network earlier this summer that other cable providers would fall in line. Reports last week said that a Mediacom/Big Ten Network agreement was in the final stages and a few details needed to be worked out.
The agreement between the two parties ends a sometimes contentious negotiation period that had been going on for well over a year. For earlier entries I've had on Road Tips regarding the on-going process, click here, here, here, here and here. This entry continues to be one of the highest viewed entries on my blog.
All this comes just in time for the start of the college football season. Today, Iowa hosts Maine in their opening game of the season. The game will be shown on the Mediacom Connections channel, but the rest of the full network will not be available for a few days while Mediacom puts some equipment in place to receive and distribute the channel on their system. This will include multiple channels of simultaneous live games, HD broadcasts and video-on-demand.
While the main bone of contention between the Big Ten Network and cable providers was the high cost of per subscriber fees (reportedly $1.10 per subscriber) and the network's demand that they be part of the basic cable package, the Big Ten Network backed off those demands with the largest cable providers in the Midwest during recent negotiations. The network will be shown on Mediacom's expanded tier of channels. Locally here in the Quad Cities, it will be on channel 78. And Mediacom representatives said that the cable provider will absorb the subscriber fees initially.
This is good news for thousands of fans across the state of Iowa. But the Big Ten's tough stance in launching the channel showed other major conferences that having their own conference channel would be hard to pull off. Speculation had rested upon the Southeastern Conference as the next one to to step up and start their own network. However, the concept was pretty much squashed after the SEC agreed to a $2.25 billion dollar 15-year contract with ESPN to carry conference games. Other conferences, such as the Big 12, the ACC and Pac 10 are still watching the evolution of the Big Ten conference's network to see if a similar network plan could be in their future.
So, at 11 a.m., I'll be hanging in our "lodge", cold beer in the cooler, food in the kitchen, bathroom down the hall, fully rested from not having to get up early to drive to Iowa City, and with no stress from having to find a place to park as I get ready to watch the game from the comfort of my couch.
But it's still too damn early for football...