[HT: John Ourand, Sports Business Daily ]
One thing you must understand about conference realignment in college athletics is that it’s all about the size of the TV market and how many new cable subscribers will buy in.
When the Big Ten invited Maryland and Rutgers to join the conference it was strictly because they could deliver large TV markets and a few million more subscribers to the Big Ten Network.
There’s a catch.
The Big Ten conference does not guarantee that their games will be on the Big Ten Network. What that means is Maryland and Rutgers may not have their games on BTN unless they play by the “rules.”
The Big Ten Network has a plan to they would like to use to strong arm cable companies. Either place BTN on their basic service or the newbies’ games will never been seen on the network.
The dominant cable company in the New York/New Jersey area is Comcast and Cablevision. Comcast is the dominant cable company in Maryland. Both have placed BTN on their sports tiers which is optional and costs only .15 per subscriber since they are currently outside the market.
The Big Ten potentially could earn many more millions should BTN go into basic cable.
When Nebraska joined the Big Ten Time Warner Cable and Charter cut deals with BTN so the network didn’t have to strong arm the good folks who live and die by the Cornhuskers.
The Big Ten is open to cut new deals with Comcast and Cablevision while their current carriage deals exist but Comcast and Cablevision might not be as accommodating.
Maryland and Rutgers might be located in large populations with cable boxes but that doesn’t mean an instant demand to watch their Terrapins or Scarlet Knights.
If the Big Ten doesn’t get what they want, new basic subscribers, then Maryland and Rutgers will be in the conference but not seen.