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Big Ten Net Scores Insight Deal

Just a day away from its scheduled August 30 launch, the Big Ten Network (BTN) landed another distribution deal with Insight Communications, a cable operator in the heart of Big Ten country.

Insight will carry BTN on its Classic service in Columbus, Ohio (home of the Ohio State Buckeyes), and Evansville, Ind., and on its Digital 2.0 service in its Kentucky systems. The network will be launched throughout Kentucky with a two-week promotion on the Classic service. Through the deal with Insight, BTN will be available to an additional 640,000 customers.

“We are pleased that we have reached a reasonable agreement with the Big Ten Network,” said Insight CEO Michael Willner in a statement. “We know that our customers who are college sports fans will be very excited to watch their favorite teams, starting this Saturday when Buckeye fans can watch Ohio State take on Youngstown.”

BTN, a joint venture between Fox Cable Networks and the Big Ten Conference, has distribution in place with approximately 100 cable systems, as well as DirecTV and AT&T’s U-verse, and continues to work on closing agreements with Time Warner Cable and Mediacom.

The network, which airs coverage of conference athletics, has been in a publicity battle with operators over terms of carriage, most notably with Comcast Corp., nation’s largest cable operator. Comcast wants to place the new network on a sports tier to save its basic subscribers any addition fees associated with the network. BTN contends it is a willing negotiator on fees but insists on being carried on an expanded basic tier available to a wider number of subscribers.

“We’re willing to negotiate on everything but the basic tier,” Fox National Cable Sports Networks president Bob Thompson said earlier today.