Talks Continue After Big Ten Agreement with DISH Expires
By Jeff Bossert
Some fans of the Fighting Illini and other conference teams have a few less programming choices these days.
Last Friday, The Big Ten Network announced its agreement with DISH Network expired despite its best efforts to finalize a deal. Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk says two weeks ago, Big Ten was led to believe it had an agreement in principle, but talks have since fallen through.
Conlisk says Big Ten remains committed to working out an agreement, but encourages DISH subscribers to seek out alternate programming sources.
"We're continuing to work to get a deal done," she said. "But as I said, this process has been very unpredictable. And we have no guarantees that a deal will get done this weekend."
Conlisk says she can’t discuss what issues have kept the two sides apart. The long-term deal between Big Ten and DISH was established when the network was launched in 2007.
UPDATE: An executive at DISH Network says fees played into the expiration of a contract with the Big Ten Network.
Dave Shull, senior vice president for programming at DISH, says Big Ten was demanding that DISH pay programming fees at least a third higher than any other major distributor. He says that would equate to more than the satellite provider pays per subscriber for the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and Golf Networks combined, and would result in unreasonable monthly fees for DISH subscribers.
Shull says he hopes Fox, part-owners of Big Ten, adopts a more reasonable attitude in regard to price.