Big Ten Network and Comcast Finally Agree to a Deal

A contentious year ends pretty much OK for midwestern sports fans.

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A year of squabbling between the Big Ten Network and Comcast came to an end when the two agreed on a long-term deal that would place the network on the largest cable carrier in the nation. Starting August 15, Comcast will begin hosting the network on its expanded basic package in all the Big 10 states (except Iowa, where Comcast does not have service). After the 2009 basketball season, Comcast has the option to switch the network to a "broadly distributed digital level of service" (read: be prepared to pay more).

In states outside the Big Ten, Comcast could put the channel on any of its cable tiers, and after spring 2009, it has the option to not offer the channel at all.

The yearlong stalemate preceding the deal has been a PR nightmare for the Big 10 schools, which had compelling games trapped on a little-distributed network. Some examples of games Comcast subscribers missed: Indiana University's November 17 nail-biting win over Purdue that sent Indiana to its first bowl game in 13 years, and the instant-classic Appalachian State upset of Michigan on September 1—which also happened to be the first football game the Big Ten Network broadcast. Quite the ominous start.