I will never pass on the opportunity to kick some sand in Jim Delany’s face. His behavior has been embarrassing and amateurish, and couldn’t possibly be advancing the interests of the BTN. On the other hand, I can’t quite join with mgoblog, Maize-n-Brew, and others in concluding that the BTN is destined to fail. One crucial fact is that while it is the "Big Ten Network," the conference only owns 51 percent of the network. Fox owns the other 49 percent. While Delany’s public comments make him look about as sophisticated as George Costanza in his NBC negotiations, those of us who care (such as Comcast subscribers who don’t want to switch to DirecTV) can take some comfort in the fact that there are some genuine TV professionals involved in this negotiation. These folks didn't pull $1.10 out of thin air, and I don't think the current public posturing means that the network won't be on Comcast.
As Maize-n-Brew notes, from the football fan's perspective, the Big Ten Network is more relevant to fans of middle or lower-tier programs than to fans of Michigan and Ohio State (Jim Delany would say, "how dare you?! In the Big Ten,, all of our teams are first tier, from the champion all the way down to the 10th runner-up!"). As he notes, all or nearly all of Michigan's games will be picked up by ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. One thing that I am thinking may be worthwhile is the Big Ten studio show that is supposed to be on the BTN every night. I'm a college football/basketball junkie. I was the guy who would actually spend Saturday afternoon watching the Big Ten tripleheader on ESPN plus. I actually will watch the lesser games, even when my team isn't involved. Still, even if you don't care about watching the other games, the studio show could be useful for keeping up with other conference teams--that is, unless the BTN goes all politically correct and insists on treating soccer and field hockey and wrestling as if they are on par with football and men's basketball. I think it has potential, and I think that Comcast will end up paying something close to what the BTN is requesting.