Big Ten Announces Launch of Big Ten Channel, Signs 10-year Coverage Deal With ABC/ESPN

The Big Ten Conference has announced a joint venture with Fox Cable Networks for the launch of the Big Ten Channel and a ten-year deal with ABC Sports/ESPN to cover 1,100 football, basketball and volleyball games. The Big Ten Channel will nationally distribute athletic and academic content specifically for the conference.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters that the conference would retain majority ownership of the channel under the Fox agreement, which spans 20 years.

Many of the games and events the channel will carry were available previously through syndication only. Sports programming will include more than 35 football games (at least two for each school), at least 105 regular-season men’s basketball games, at least 55 regular-season women’s basketball games, Big Ten championships and tournaments, 170 Olympic sporting events and coverage from the conference’s library of historic sporting events.

Each school will have the right to provide 60 hours of its own content annually. Beginning in August, the Big Ten Channel will be available as part of DIRECTV’s Total Choice Package.

The new 10-year coverage deal with ABC Sports/ESPN calls for up to 17 Big Ten football games to be televised on ABC and up to 25 on ESPN or ESPN2, all regional afternoon football games to be shown on ABC to be aired on ESPN/ESPN2 in outer-markets for national availability, about 60 men’s basketball games to be televised on an ESPN network, and 100 women’s basketball and volleyball games to shown on an ESPN network.

Fans will be able to access live events, extended video highlights, in-progress games and features via ESPN’s collection of new media outlets, and Big Ten coverage will also be available on ESPN Classic and ESPN International.