The BTN issued another release today concerning televised games. IU's game against Akron will be televised, which means that all four of IU's less-than-marquee non-conference matchups will be televised. I thought the most interesting aspect of this release was an answer to one of my key questions about the Big Ten Network: will there be regionalized coverage? Yes.
All games produced by the Big Ten Network will be available to cable and satellite operators nationwide as part of their agreements to carry the network. Whenever the Big Ten Network is producing more than one game airing at the same time, the network will split the feeds regionally among cable operators to allow Big Ten fans to watch the game with the most regional interest. In addition, cable and satellite providers that have agreed to carry the network will be offered the chance to carry the additional games via "overflow" channels.
The new round of announcements indicates that there will be four noon (Eastern) games on September 1, five on September 8, and three on September 15. IU's opener against Indiana State, which will air on the BTN at 8 p.m. on September 1, now shares the timeslot with Bowling Green/Minnesota. Of course, we will see this saturation only in September. When the conference schedule begins, there will be no more than six games per weekend. Still, it will be interesting to see how this works out for fans. An IU fan in Minnesota or outside the Big Ten footprint may be out of luck for the IU-ISU game, for instance. On the other hand, as a DirecTV subscriber, is it possible that I will have access to all of the feeds? Could I have five Big Ten Network games in the rotation on September 8, in addition to whatever ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/FSN are airing? This could compromise my marriage. In any event, the absence of the ESPN Gameplan option this year could prejudice fans of Big Ten schools who don't live near old alma mater. No wonder Fox loves the idea of this network. Scheduling issues could drive any number of Big Ten alumni into the arms of DirecTV.