Miller: Big Ten Network calls the shots

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2012 - 7:31 AM

The big-business network risks alienating some Big Ten fans and teams with early kickoff times and an ongoing contract dispute with Dish Network.

hide

The Big Ten Network risks alienating some Big Ten fans and teams with early kickoff times and an ongoing contract dispute with Dish Network.

Photo: Anonymous, Pr Newswire

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Remember the 2007 season, Gopher fans? A 1-11 disaster made worse (or maybe better, depending on your tolerance for pain) by the fact that you couldn't watch the games on TV because the just-launched Big Ten Network wasn't available on most cable systems.

Dish Network subscribers didn't experience that disruption at the time, because the fledgling network struck a deal relatively quickly with the satellite system. But perhaps that was merely deferred distress, because BTN is about to go black on one of its biggest carriers.

"We'd like to be still negotiating with Dish, but unfortunately, negotiations have stalled," BTN vice president of communications Elizabeth Conlisk said. "There is a surprising lack of urgency from Dish, but we're ready to continue discussions at any time."

If no agreement is reached, the 2.4 million Dish subscribers who pay extra for a sports tier that includes BTN will not be able to watch Saturday's New Hampshire-Gophers game. If the dispute lingers for another week, the game with Western Michigan is in jeopardy.

It's just the latest ignominy that Gopher football fans have had to endure because of Big Ten television contracts, and a good reminder that all that cash -- and make no mistake, it's a lot, roughly $20 million to each Big Ten member last year -- comes at a price. True, in many ways, following Gophers football never has been easier or better, given the development of high definition, the virtual guarantee that every game is televised, and the portability of watch-now apps such as BTN2Go. Not to mention the new beer garden at TCF Bank Stadium.

But football's popularity means it can be used as leverage in negotiations such as the ones with Dish, held hostage while each side attempts to extract as much in fees as possible from the other.

And even worse, particularly for fans who want to attend the games in person? As Gophers fans well know, TV decides when the games are played.

In Minnesota, that has meant 11 a.m. kickoffs for several years, despite the school's distaste for the early starts. In 2009, five home games started at that hour, and three more followed in 2010. The Gophers believe the early starts cost them at the box office, and detract from the atmosphere they are trying to establish at TCF Bank Stadium.

"I'm an old traditionalist, a college football guy. I like playing in the afternoon," coach Jerry Kill said. "But that's all changed."

Actually, it's changed twice now. The Big Ten, given new freedom in its TV contracts to schedule more 2:30 p.m. games, pledged last year to make morning starts less frequent, and followed through by assigning the Gophers no 11 a.m. kickoffs at home.

But that pledge has apparently lapsed. Rumors persist that low ratings for Gophers games play a part in this year's schedule, but the conference has denied it. Whatever the reason, four of the Gophers' next five games, three of them at home, will kick off an hour before noon. (The remaining four home kickoffs will be scheduled later in the season.)

New athletic director Norwood Teague has noticed, and he doesn't sound pleased. He recently described noon kickoffs while he was an assistant AD at North Carolina as "difficult," and noted that morning games are hard on Gopher fans and the school's students. Teague, like Joel Maturi before him, said he would like the matter discussed at a conference level.

In the meantime, set those alarms. And hope that Dish and BTN settle their differences.

  • related content

  • Phil Miller's Big Ten power poll

    Friday September 7, 2012

    1. Michigan State (1-0; at Central Michigan)

  • Phil Miller's short takes

    Friday September 7, 2012

    • Looks like Ohio State and Penn State have something to play for after all. According to espn.com, the Big Ten has ruled that the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, though...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 0 2nd Prd
NY Rangers 0
Detroit 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close