‘U’ community reacts to Big Ten Network, Comcast deal

by Andrew Cummins

Last week , the Big Ten Network and Comcast struck a deal that will put the channel on expanded basic cable in August until at least spring 2009.

The network was not available on Minneapolis’ only franchise cable provider last year , which led to subscribers missing eight Gophers football games and 19 Gophers men’s basketball games.

The following is reaction to the news of the agreement:

Gophers football player Kim Royston said the deal will bring exposure to players and programs that was lacking last season.

“When you played on the Big Ten Network (last season) a lot of people didn’t get to see you because they didn’t have that service,” he said.

Royston, a recent transfer from the University of Wisconsin, said the added exposure could eventually lead to better results for players and the team itself.

“Hopefully since more people get to you see you play, you might run into a better bowl game,” he said.

Royston added that it was frustrating to not be able to see Big Ten games last year. At Wisconsin, he had Charter Cable, which still hasn’t reached a deal with the network.

Journalism senior Ben Legwold called the news “awesome.”

The Gopher fan said that before the deal it seemed like he could only watch the Gophers football team if it was ranked – which didn’t happen last season.

“I was kind of ticked off because it seemed like they were forcing me to buy DirecTV , when I was happy with Comcast,” he said.

It was frustrating to be a fan when he couldn’t watch plays and see what happened in a game until highlights were shown on ESPN later in the day, Legwold said.

Although Comcast hasn’t decided whether the price for basic expanded service will increase because of the new contract, Legwold said paying more wouldn’t be a big deal.

“I’d rather do that than wait for a scoreboard,” he said.

Although he’s had DirecTV, which offered the network last year, sport management senior Paul Wawra said the new deal is a positive for the University and its athletics programs.

As a member of the University Marching Band , Wawra said he gets to see all the Gophers football home games in person.

Wawra plays trumpet in the marching band and said he thinks the network will also bring more coverage to it.

The lack of availability of the network through Comcast wasn’t the reason why he started receiving service with DirecTV.

Instead, the switch was prompted by an overall dislike of Comcast’s service, he said.

The deal will take effect just in time for biology junior Sam York .

York and his roommates will be Comcast subscribers when they move into a house in the Southeast Como neighborhood this summer, he said.

York said he was upset that he only got to view a handful of Gophers basketball games last season, specifically citing that he didn’t get to see Blake Hoffarber’s game-winning shot against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament last season live on TV .

Since he goes to the home Gophers football games, the agreement is more important to York for basketball.

“I want to watch the incoming class,” he said, pointing out his interest in seeing signature Gophers recruit Ralph Sampson III.

If Comcast increases the price for expanded cable, York said he could see why it would be an unpopular decision with those who are unaffiliated with the University or uninterested in its athletics teams.