Big Ten Network to Kick Off on EchoStar's Dish Network

Big Ten Network

landed a deal Thursday with

EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network

that puts the fledgling channel on Dish’s basic service through the 2007-08 basketball season. After that, the network will be moved up one tier on the satellite-TV service service in the eight states with Big Ten schools. It remains to be seen where on Dish’s lineup the network will be carried in the remaining parts of the country.

The deal means that the new network will be available to Dish America’s Top 100 subscribers around the country, approximately 28.5 million homes, on channel 439 at least through early 2008. Roughly 6.2 million of those homes are in the Big Ten’s core markets.

The channel will then move up to the America’s Top 100 Plus service ($10 more per month at $39.99) in the eight Big Ten states, dropping the number homes in those core markets to a minimum of 5.4 million.

Dish will air two games in high-definition this Saturday (Akron-Ohio State and Syracuse-Iowa) before officially launching the HD simulcast of Big Ten Network next week.

A joint venture between Fox Cable Sports Networks and the Big Ten Conference, Big Ten Network reached a deal with DirecTV but still remains in a stand-off with major cable operators such as Comcast.