Big Ten Network Provides Glimpse of ‘Madness’

Want to get a look at the Big Ten Network, but you’re cable provider doesn’t carry the service?

The fledgling service will provide a sneak peek of its coverage of conference members’ opening practice sessions for college basketball squads, via live streaming on the Internet tonight.

Co-owned by the conference’s 11-member schools and Fox National Cable Sports Network, the network, which now counts more than 31 million subs via deals with satellite, cable, telco and municipal providers, will simulcast its 90-minute Big Ten Tonight: Basketball Tip-Off Edition at 9:30 p.m. (ET) at free of charge. Highlights from the program --  which will go live to Illinois’ “Illini Madness,” “Hoosier Hysteria” at Indiana, Michigan State’s “Midnight Madness,” “Tubby’s Tipoff” at Minnesota and Wisconsin’s “Night of the Grateful Red” – will also be archived, according to network officials.

Although BTN has secured the fastest rollout in cable history, according to Fox officials, it has been unable to tackle carriage contracts with key cable operators in the conference’s eight-state footprint. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Mediacom, Charter and Cox have all failed to come to terms with BTN over pricing and positioning. The network, which launched Aug. 30, has been seeking a monthly subscriber fee of around $1 for subscribers within Big Ten country and around 10 cents for those outside that territory.