Big Ten Conference Announces New Cable Channel

In a new partnership with Fox Cable Networks, the Big Ten Conference has announced the creation of The Big Ten Channel, which is set to launch nationwide on cable and satellite television beginning August, 2007. The new channel, available to all carriers and distributors nationwide on their basic tiers, will be devoted to Big Ten athletic and academic programs.

Given a loyal and passionate fan base that s powered by millions of alumni across America, it makes sense that the Big Ten is the first conference to take this step nationally, and we re excited to be a part of it, said Tony Vinciquerra, President & CEO of the Fox Networks Group.

Big Ten Channel programming will include some HDTV content, and select programming will also be available through the Internet, iPods, cell phones, and other emerging technologies.

The depth and breadth of the new media environment in which we find ourselves demands the type of accessibility to programming that we have created with the Big Ten Channel, said James E. Delany, Big Ten Conference Commissioner. Consumers are taking advantage of all types of emerging technologies, and the way they access sports will only continue to change. The Channel aims to keep pace with the evolving demands of our fans.

The Big Ten Channel will broadcast a wide range of sporting events as well as original programming produced by the 11 member institutions of the Big Ten Conference, and will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year. DIRECTV is the Big Ten Channel s first affiliate, and will deliver the channel to subscribers of its Total Choice Package when the channel debuts.

Many sporting events previously available only through syndication will now be available on the Big Ten channel, providing greater exposure for non-mainstream college sports. Sports programming on the channel will include at least 35 football games (a minimum of two per school, at least one of which will be a conference game); 105 regular-season men s basketball games; 55 regular-season women s basketball games; Big Ten championships and tournaments; 170 Olympic sporting events; and coverage from the conference library of past events, including bowl games. Additionally, each school will have the opportunity to create 60 hours of its own content each year.

The Conference has also signed a new 10-year national rights contract with ABC/ESPN, which has been broadcasting Big Ten sports since 1966. The new contract with ABC/ESPN, also effective August 2007, includes broadcasting up to 41 Big Ten football games on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2; approximately 60 men s basketball games on an ESPN Network (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, or ESPN360); and 100 women s basketball and volleyball events on an ESPN network.

Big Ten coverage will also be available through ESPN s new media outlets, including Mobile ESPN, ESPN360, and ESPN VOD, as well as ESPN Classic and ESPN International.