The Big Ten Network will make its much-anticipated debut in August.
It will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The fledgling network, which will be carried locally on Buckeye CableSystem, figures to be an instant hit among Ohio State and Michigan fans.
It plans to carry:
More than 35 football games each season;
A minimum of 105 regular season men's basketball games;
Women's basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball;
Weekly coaches shows;
Olympic sporting events, including baseball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, swimming, diving, and more;
A nightly studio show, including segments from each of the 11 schools in the conference;
Classic games and historical footage from the libraries of ESPN and ABC;
Approximately 660 hours of programming produced by Big Ten member universities showcasing their academics, students, and programs.
"We're really very pleased that our customers will be able to get the Big Ten Network from the beginning," said Florence Buchanan, vice president of sales and marketing for Buckeye, owned by Block Communications, Inc., which also owns The Blade. "Our entire service area is obviously Big Ten country, and I expect the Big Ten Network to become a popular destination very, very quickly."
Although Buckeye and the network agreed in principle to the deal last month, she said the local cable outlet - which has more than 150,000 subscribers in northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan - has not yet signed the contract. But she doesn't expect that to be a problem.
"I don't see it not happening," Ms. Buchanan said. "I think both sides will be able to work out the final details by mid-summer."
The Big Ten Network, a 20-year partnership between the conference and Fox Cable Networks, already has national agreements in place with DirecTV and AT&T to carry its programming around the clock. And the network has deals pending with more than 40 other cable outlets within the eight states that blanket the Big Ten market.
Buckeye will carry the network in its expanded basic level of service and also will carry its high definition feed.
Details still being worked out include the cost per subscriber and the channel location.
"Buckeye believes that the network is compelling and attractive to its subscribers, who will enjoy unparalleled coverage of Big Ten sports, as well as campus programming featuring entertaining stories about what's happening at their favorite universities," said Mark Silverman, president of the Big Ten Network.
The Big Ten Network will allow home fans to see their teams regardless of where they live.
It already has announced its five prime-time football games - Indiana State at Indiana (Sept. 1), Syracuse at Iowa (Sept. 8), Duke at Northwestern (Sept. 15), Indiana at Michigan State (Oct. 13), Illinois at Minnesota (Nov. 3) - with the rest of the schedule to come.
The network also has made its first on-air hire, signing veteran ESPN anchor/analyst, Dave Revsine, as its lead nightly studio host. Revsine, a Northwestern graduate, will start his new job July 1. Several more seasoned football and basketball studio analysts will follow.
Buckle your chin strap.
Before long, it will be all Big Ten, all the time.
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