EAST LANSING, Mich. - With its mission aimed at covering both the athletic and academic content of the 11 Big Ten Conference institutions, the Big Ten Network, set to launch on Aug. 30, will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and will provide unprecedented coverage of league athletic events during its first year. The Big Ten Network will be made available to cable and satellite carriers and distributors nationwide. Many of the scheduled athletic events and programs will be produced in High-Definition television (HDTV). In addition to traditional distribution through cable and satellite, select Big Ten Network content will also be made available through alternative media platforms such as the Internet, iPods, cell phones and other emerging technologies.
The Network will provide access to an extensive schedule of conference sports events and shows; original programs in academics, the arts and sciences; campus activities; and associated personalities. Sports programming will include live coverage of more major men’s and women’s events than ever before, along with news, highlights and analysis, all complemented by hours of university-produced campus programming.
The Big Ten Network also prides itself on its commitment to "event equality" for men’s and women’s sports on all network-controlled media outlets within the first three years of its launch. Big Ten Conference commissioner James Delaney made the announcement on the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Network in early June. In its first year, the Big Ten Network will already feature more conference women’s athletics than ever before, making up nearly 40 percent of the programming. The network’s commitment to "event equality" signals its intention to produce and distribute an equal number of men’s and women’s events by year three. This "event equality" will provide the largest concentration of women’s athletics on any national network in history while also providing more coverage to conference men’s sports than ever before by utilizing all available network-controlled media.
Recently the city of East Lansing welcomed the Big Ten Conference and the Big Ten Network to the area to celebrate the hometown Michigan State Spartans and Big Ten pride as part of Big Ten Day on Aug. 8. Several Spartan coaches and administrators attended the gathering, including Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Senior Woman Administrator Shelley Appelbaum, who spoke highly of the Big Ten Network.
"We are excited about the Big Ten Network and its upcoming launch in late August," Appelbaum said. "The Big Ten Conference continues to be a leader nationally on numerous fronts and the Big Ten Network is another example of our conference providing unprecedented coverage for our broad-based sports programs. We look forward to the 2007-08 year, and thereafter, as the Network will provide tremendous additional exposure and coverage for our women’s sports programs which continues the conference’s longtime commitment to equity. The Big Ten Conference has prided itself with its storied history of academic and athletic success and the Network will showcase all of its member institutions in a new and creative way. We are grateful for the increased coverage and we hope our loyal fans and supporters will enjoy watching all of our Spartan Teams on the Big Ten Network in the years ahead."
First-year women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant also expressed her excitement about the newly-formed Network.
"The media exposure we’ll get from the Big Ten Network will be great for our fans and alumni, especially for our games on the road," Merchant said. "It will also have a positive impact on recruiting. People from all over the nation can now see our games, and that can only help expand our recruiting base. It’s exciting that the Big Ten is targeting women’s sports. It shows the commitment the network has to women’s basketball and also some of the other women’s sports that haven’t had that exposure in the past."
Though the Michigan State men’s basketball team plays an impressive nationally-televised schedule every season, Spartan head coach Tom Izzo also expressed his thoughts on the Network.
"I think this network can really help build tradition at Michigan State and across the Big Ten Conference," Izzo said. "We have tradition at each school, but this gives us a format in which to put it all together. Tradition brings all alums together, and in turn benefits all athletic programs and the University as a whole. The Network is a bold move, and yet it was a bold move when I got hired. I look forward to what could be some extremely exciting times with the Big Ten Network."
MSU women’s tennis coach Erica Perkins echoed the excitement of her fellow Spartan coaches.
"I think especially for the smaller Olympic sports, the Big Ten Network is huge in terms of exposure," Perkins stated. "I think for someone like me, who is not originally from this region of the country, it’s also nice that my family and friends can keep up with MSU athletics. I think the Network will also impact a good majority of our student-athletes, and of course recruiting as well. In tennis, it is an international and national sport, so prospective student-athletes can feel comfortable coming to the Big Ten if they know their parents are able to watch them on television around the country."
The Network will be available nationwide to all cable and satellite distributors on basic tiers. DIRECTV has signed on as first affiliate and will deliver the Network at launch to subscribers of its Total Choice package. Programming on the Big Ten Network will include: 35+ football games per season, 105+ regular season men’s basketball games, 55+ regular season women’s basketball games, Big Ten championship events, archived Big Ten events, including bowl games, 170+ Olympic sporting events, coaches’ shows and 660 hours of campus programming.
For more information on the Big Ten Network please visit www.bigtennetwork.com, and for information regarding all MSU varsity athletic teams, please visit www.msuspartans.com.