CHICAGO – Looking to watch college football on the Big Ten Network or Fox Sports 1 this fall? A contract dispute could leave you out in the cold come September.
BTN’s 10-year contract with Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, expires Sept. 1, and Mark Silverman, president of BTN and National Networks for Fox Sports, is concerned because no agreement appears near.
“I’m feeling with a little over five weeks left before football season, we should be much further along than we are,” Silverman said Tuesday at Big Ten football media days. “It’s extremely concerning. I’ve gone through this with them 10 years ago. And I can’t predict what their motivations are.”
Last year, Comcast dropped BTN (which is a joint venture between Fox Sports and the Big Ten) from markets that did not include a Big Ten school. Silverman fears that could extend to all markets.
Along with games on BTN, the agreement for Big Ten games that air on Fox Sports 1 also is expiring.
“BTN and FS1 have made proposal to Comcast dating back to February, and we’ve had no substantive response at all,” Silverman said.
For the Gophers, their Aug. 30 season opener against New Mexico State wouldn’t be affected, but the Sept. 8 game against Fresno State on FS1 and the Sept. 15 game against Miami (Ohio) could be. FS1 also picked up the Friday night game against Indiana on Oct. 26. The rest of Minnesota’s Big Ten schedule has yet to be assigned a channel. Last season, all but three of the Gophers’ 12 games were on FS1 or BTN.
This season, BTN and FS1 are expected to air 60 games, or roughly two-thirds of all Big Ten games.
“We are letting people know this to alert Comcast subscribers of this real possibility they may lose these games,” Silverman added.