CHICAGO — The president of the Big Ten Network said Tuesday that little progress has been made with Comcast on negotiations for a new contract, and that he fears that the giant cable provider will drop the network after their current 10-year agreement expires Aug. 31.
Mark Silverman, who also is president of national networks for Fox Sports, said Comcast is the primary cable provider for 10 of the 14 schools in Big Ten markets, including Penn State and Rutgers, all of which carry BTN.
"I feel with a little over five weeks before football season, we should be further along than we are," Silverman said at Big Ten football media days. "It's extremely concerning."
He said that Comcast removed BTN from out-of-market cable systems "a few months ago," and that his company reached out to Comcast.
"Comcast was intent on dropping BTN and refused to listen to our plea," Silverman said. "My fear is that their removal of BTN in the outer markets may just be the first step in Comcast's plan to remove BTN from their systems everywhere, including the Big Ten home markets."
The cable TV giant released this statement: "Comcast's agreements with content providers, like the Big Ten Network, expire from time to time. We are communicating with the Big Ten Network about continuing to carry it after Aug. 31 and look forward to productive negotiations."
The Big Ten Conference football schedule will begin Thursday, Aug. 30. The network will televise one game that night and another on Aug. 31, along with four games on Sept. 1.
Silverman said the agreement for Big Ten games airing on Fox Sports 1 also is expiring. He said proposals have been made to Comcast dating to last February "and we've had no substantive response at all."