Fox Sports Signals Standoff With Comcast Over Big Ten Network

A top Fox Sports executive warned that a channel devoted to Big Ten conference sports could go dark in Comcast households before the start of football season.

Speaking at Big Ten media day Tuesday in Chicago Mark Silverman, president of Fox Sports National Networks and Big Ten Network, indicated that the conglomerate is in a standoff with cable provider Comcast over a new carriage agreement. The current agreement is set to end Sept. 1.

“The BTN agreement with Comcast is expiring soon, as is the agreement for all the Big Ten games on FS1,” Silvrman said in his media-day remarks. “BTN and FS1 made proposals to Comcast dating back to February and we’ve had no substantive response.”

The potential for a blackout would also affect Big Ten games on the company’s primary cable sports channel, Fox Sports 1. Silverman encouraged viewers to seek out cable and satellite providers who do carry the channel as alternatives.

Last year, Comcast dropped the Big Ten Network in markets that did not include the conference’s schools. Fox currently has carriage agreements with all other major providers for Big Ten Network, and sources tell Variety that its asking price for the channel is the in line with the rate it is charging other providers. Comcast, however, has expressed concern about rising carriage fees and is likely looking to keep growing costs under control.

Fox on Tuesday also began rolling out online ads encouraging consumers to apply pressure to Comcast.

The Big Ten is home to several of the country’s top college sports programs, including Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.

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