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BTN Creates Opening for Nebraska

With the kickoff of the 2011 college-football
season just over a month away, officials at BTN have
scored deals with a number of cable operators to upgrade
their positioning of the network in Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers,
which BTN president Mark
Silverman calls “one of the top six or
seven programs in the history of college
football,” have joined the Big Ten
Conference. In order to ensure the
team’s football games will be available
to viewers in the state, the conference
and Fox Sports co-owned
channel must secure a comparable
distribution threshold there as it has
with video providers in the rest of
the conference’s footprint. Nebraska
opens its season on Sept. 3 versus

Last week, BTN took major steps
in that direction. On July 25, Time
Warner Cable agreed to move BTN,
which will remain on its digital tier
in Nebraska, to its highly penetrated
standard service on channel
24 on Aug. 23. Dish Network said
it would make the network available
to its subscribers in Nebraska
via its America’s Top 120 Plus programming
package or a higher level
of service, kicking off on Sept. 1.

Silverman, speaking at Big Ten
Media Day in Chicago’s McCormick Place on July 28, said
BTN had reached agreements with all major cable operators
in Nebraska.

On Friday, Charter Communications, which will continue
to offer BTN on its Sports View tier on channel 425,
announced that it will upgrade BTN to expanded basic
digital, significantly expanding its sub count.

According to the Associated Press, Cable One has agreet to
expand BTN carriage in Nebraska. For its part, Cox Communications
— which serves Omaha, the state’s most populous
city, and has been offering BTN as part of its Sports and Information
tier there — said it reached an accord for continued
BTN carriage.

DirecTV has already been on board
with BTN in Nebraska. Silverman,
Cox, Time Warner Cable and Charter
would not comment about BTN license
fees in Nebraska.

However, the channel had been
garnering upward of 70 cents-permonth
subscriber fees within the
states comprising the conference’s
footprint during the early years of its
contracts. In a number of other areas,
BTN has been positioned on sports
tiers and receives a much lower subscription

BTN’s schedule could feature two
to four Nebraska football games, provided
the network reaches agreements
with providers in the state that will
give the service comparable distribution
levels that it has secured in other
states within the conference footprint.

By securing those deals, the parties
have also gained the rights to proffer
authenticated, streaming service
BTN2Go, a live online simulcast of all
BTN linear network programming on
the Internet, iPad and iPhone.