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BTN Adds RCN in New York as Rutgers Joins Conference

With Rutgers set to officially join the conference in July, Big Ten Network continues to buttress its distribution roster in the New York DMA, as RCN will add the service to its lineup.

BTN officials said the deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, will position the network on RCN’s signature and premium packages. RCN currently serves the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Queens.  

RCN already carries BTN in its service areas in the Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington D.C. DMAs. The latter is also becoming a much more important market for the conference, which is also adding the University of Maryland to its ranks, also beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.

The RCN Big Apple agreement comes on the heels of BTN president Mark Silverman saying the service has scored accords that will widen its penetration on Cablevision and Time Warner Cable systems in the New York DMA. Whereas those MSOs have been offering BTN on their sports tiers, the new pacts will afford the network a wider berth.

The launch on RCN in New York and the broader penetration plays on TWC and Cablevision are expected to take place before the kickoff of the 2014 football season. The MSOs’ subscribers will have access to BTN2Go, the network’s TV Everywhere vehicle. That service is particularly attractive during football season as it provides authenticated subscribers with digital access to multiple contests that are unfolding simultaneously on the gridiron.

Rutgers’ first two conference contests — its opener against Penn State on Sept. 13 and then versus Michigan on Oct. 4 — are slated to air on BTN in primetime.

Silverman said he’s optimistic that BTN will also gain broader positioning on Comcast systems serving New Jersey.

Verizon FiOS and DirecTV subscribers in and around the New York metro area receive BTN as part of those distributors’ national contracts with the service, a joint venture of Fox and the conference.

While the monthly license fees on the deals were not disclosed, BTN, under its original affiliation agreements that began with the network’s launch in August 2007, charged around $1 per subscribers within the conference’s footprint, and a much lower fee – about a dime -- elsewhere as a means to gain national distribution for an alumni base that stretches across the country.  Those rates have no doubt escalated as Fox has negotiated its second round of  affiliate contracts.