Big Ten Network Lifts Sub Base to 60 Million

With new conference additions Rutgers and Maryland, the Big Ten Conference has grown its footprint. So, too, has the Big Ten Network.

Reflecting the Scarlet Knights and the Terrapins becoming members of the conference’s eastern division, Big Ten Network, through a series of upgrades with distributors in the New York and Washington D.C. areas, has bolstered its subscriber count by some 15% since the end of the 2013-14 academic year.

President Mark Silverman said when upgrades are completed before the Aug. 28 kickoff of the football season the Big Ten Network will count some 60 million subscribers and be available to 90 million homes within the 14-member conference’ 11-state footprint and throughout the country. That’s up from 52 million last spring for the joint venture among Fox Networks and the conference

BTN's eighth season will feature improved positioning on systems owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and RCN in the New York DMA, home to Rutgers. Similarly, the nation's largest distributor and Cox will boost the service’s availability in and around the nation’s capital and northern Viriginia, where Maryland has a significant fan base.

“We already had strong levels of distribution on DirecTV, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS inside and outside of the conference footprint,” said Silverman. “Now, we’ve added more cable subs, with positioning on mostly expanded and digital basic. It’s a nice uptick.”

As a result, Silverman said there will be “greater exposure for the BTN throughout New York and the mid-Atlantic  states, down into DC and northern Viriginia.”

Moreover, Silverman said the network has picked up better coverage on Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles, which will complement carriage on DirecTV in the City of Angels environs.

He said the enhanced affiliation positioning will happen before the start of the pigskin season, but “it may happen a little sooner.”

Silverman said BTN has hosted a number of coming out parties:  a June 26 event at Cipriani in Manhattan and before some 10,000 fans at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. Events were also held for Maryland in Baltimore and Nationals Park in Washington.

“We’re also working closely with local alumni groups for more events,” he said.

The network is putting the finishing touches on a media plan that will take form on outdoor and digital vehicles and other platforms. “We’re looking to work with our affiliate partners,” he said.

Silverman noted that Rutgers will be prominently featured on the network with primetime homes games versus Penn State and Michigan on Sept. 13 and Oct. 4, while Maryland is set for a Nov. 15  meeting with Michigan State at College Park.

As for BTN2Go, the 24/7 live stream of BTN, Silverman said it’s the third-most-downloaded free sports app. In addition, the TV Everywhere platform offers users opportunities to see extra football games not televised in their area during crowded windows and has strong support from “every major provider and a lot of the mid-level distributors.”

All told, BTN will televise 40 football games this season, as part of a 1,000-event roster across all platforms.