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Big Ten Network kicks off coverage

Aug. 30, 2007; updated Sept. 4, 2007

If you live and breathe Big Ten sports...if you know all of the schools' colors and mascot names, not just Goldy Gopher...even if you just like to cheer against Wisconsin and Iowa at every available opportunity: There's a new broadcast network for you.

The Big Ten Network (BTN)--a first-of-its-kind partnership between the 11 Big Ten universities and a major television provider--launched Aug. 30, giving conference supporters unprecedented access to Big Ten sporting events. BTN will make conference sports programs available to more than 17 million viewers nationwide.

"The new Big Ten Channel will result in higher visibility for Gopher athletics and the entire University of Minnesota both in our state and nationally," said Twin Cities campus athletics director Joel Maturi.

For example, all Gopher football games will have a broadcast home this year. Since the 2001 season, a total of 19 Gopher football games were either not available on ABC, CBS, ESPN, or ESPN2, or were not available at all. The network will also offer increased access to sports that typically have not received much airtime. Coverage will be provided for sports such as baseball, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling. And there will be a dramatic increase in the amount of televised women's sports. More than 60 Big Ten women's basketball games will be broadcast this coming year, doubling the previous average. Within one year, women's sports will comprise half the network's sports programming.

Overall, more than 60 Gopher games and events will be aired on the BTN this season. In addition to sports coverage, the Big Ten Network will also provide each university with opportunities to showcase academic breakthroughs, honored alumni, current students, renowned faculty, and academic accomplishments. The BTN also will provide student internships at each school. The BTN was available at launch time nationwide via DIRECTV, and through local cable companies Hiawatha Broadband and Ace Communications, which serve areas in southeast Minnesota. For more information about the BTN and to find out who is carrying the network in your area, visit Big Ten Network.

The goal of the Big Ten Conference is to eventually have the network available to everyone who wants it, and the University is hopeful that agreements will be reached with other cable providers soon. In the meantime, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association will be working with its chapters to facilitate viewing parties and other activities to help fans watch or attend Gopher sports events.