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Charter Joins Time Warner in Big Ten Carriage

With college football season looming, cable system operator Charter Communications reached an agreement in principle Wednesday to carry Big Ten Network on its systems in the Midwest, which is the main fan base of the Big Ten university sports conference.

Fox Cable Networks, which is in a 20-year partnership with Big Ten conference, handles carriage deals.

 The Charter systems are in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Northern Illinois. A joint Charter/Big Ten press release said “a majority of these same systems can launch the network on its expanded basic level of service in time for Saturday’s Big Ten college football openers.”

 Big 10 reached a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable Monday, carrying the channel in the Midwest. That agreement may have opened the floodgates to other carriage deals, including the deal with Charter.

 In June, Fox Cable Networks pacted with Comcast. Reports suggest that Comcast paid 70 cents per sub per month, while Big Ten was seeking $1. A sticking point in carriage deal negotiations is whether Big Ten would be placed on smaller sports or digital tiers, while Fox sought big basic.

 Big Ten schools include University of Michigan, Ohio State University, University of Illinois and Penn State. Big Ten’s push is facing some carriage resistance.

Separately, Comcast/South Florida announced Wednesday it added Big Ten Network as part of its Sports and Entertainment Package and also on-demand.

 Big Ten Network content goes to channel 742 in Comcast’s Sports and Entertainment Package that is seen in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties. “We have a large concentration of graduates from Big Ten schools that now call this area home,” Comcast’s Regional Senior Vice President for South Florida, Filemon Lopez said in a statement.