Comcast, Big Ten Reach Long-Term Deal

Comcast has agreed to an Aug. 15 launch on its expanded basic tier in markets with Big Ten schools.

As advertised, Comcast and the Big Ten Network have reached what is described as a long-term carriage deal for the college sports network.

Sticking points had been over where the channel was carried--sports tier, digital tier and basic--and the price. Big Ten was said to be asking over a dollar per subscriber, but a source familiar with the agreement puts the price at about 70 cents per sub.

Comcast has agreed to preview the network Aug. 15 on its expanded basic tier in markets with Big Ten schools (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania--except Philadelphia, where it will start out on the digital tier).

In the spring, after the seasons for football and basketball--the marquee college sports--are over, Comcast will be allowed to move them to digital tiers in "most" of the markets. Digital customers will be able to get the games in HD.

Comcast does not have to launch the network in expanded basic in any markets outside the Big Ten, and can put it in a separate sports package if it chooses, or not crry it at all. Both sides said they would work together to make Big Ten programming available in more places than ever before. That includes online through and Comcast video on demand.