Big Ten Network kicks off with U-M football coverage
The Big Ten Network is live!
The new national cable/satellite programming service telecast its first U-M game Saturday, two days after the network made its prime time debut Aug. 30 with the inaugural telecast of "Big Ten Tonight." The U-M matchup against Appalachian State was one of six games carried Saturday on BTN.
"After extensive deliberation, the presidents of the Big Ten universities concluded that the Big Ten Network gives us the means to maximize our broadcast assets in a way that best reflects our institutional priorities and serves the interests of fans over the long haul," President Mary Sue Coleman said. "As a conference-specific network it will provide much more opportunity to showcase the entire spectrum of university athletics, including more basketball and football, and far greater coverage of Olympic and women's sports."
The Big Ten Network, which will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, will televise more than 400 live events, plus original programming, historic footage, classic games and coaches' shows. The president of the new network, Mark Silverman, earned an MBA from U-M in 1991.
U-M, along with all the other Big Ten institutions, will have the opportunity during the year to air up to 60 hours of original programming about the institution. U-M has chosen a 30-minute magazine format to present stories about faculty, students and alumni, and about health-related topics. (See related story below>)
In Michigan, fans can see the network on DirecTV and AT&T, which are carrying BTN as part of their basic level of service. On campus, students will be able to view the network in the residence halls.
Throughout the Midwest, 100 cable companies, as well as DirecTV and AT&T are carrying BTN as part of their basic level of service. But the network had not been able to reach an agreement with Michigan's largest cable provider, Comcast, or with other large cable companies. BTN has set up a toll-free number fans can call to request Comcast and others to carry the network as part of the basic package: 1-866-WANT-B10.
The Big Ten line up includes:
• More than 400 live events, including football, men's and women's basketball and at least 170 NCAA-sponsored events such as hockey, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, track and field, swimming and diving.
• "Big Ten Tonight," a nightly studio show hosted by Dave Revsine, will offer highlights, analysis, features, interviews and breaking news. The show will be set apart by its unprecedented access; BTN has set up a mini-studio at each campus where it will interview coaches and players every evening.
• "Friday Night Tailgate," 8 p.m. Fridays. Hosted by Mike Hall, the program will look at the next day's games and the excitement surrounding them, including a weekly competition between two Big Ten schools to see which has the better atmosphere and traditions on football weekends.
• "Big Ten Extra Points," 7 p.m. Mondays, will showcase every scoring moment from the previous Saturday's games touchdown, field goal, extra point and safety, as well as the big plays.
• "Coaches' Q&A," 7 p.m. Wednesdays, will take the sound bites from press conferences and boil them into a 60-minute pithy compilation.
• "The Big Ten's Greatest Games" will choose 24 historic match-ups for fans to relive. The memories and insights of legendary coaches and players will be woven into each episode.
• "Big Ten Football Saturday" will wrap one-hour pre- and post-game analysis, hosted by Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, around the telecast of the week's match-ups.
• "The Big Ten Women's Show," 7:30 p.m. Mondays, will showcase the best of Big Ten women's athletics with highlights, previews, analysis and features about female athletes, coaches and others. BTN has committed to offering event equality on all its platforms by 2010.
• "Big Ten Short Stories" will offer behind the scenes features about the people and places that make the Big Ten special, with stories about amazing athletes, iconic coaches and fabled stadiums.
BTN is majority-owned by the Big Ten Conference with Fox Cable Networks holding a minority interest. The proceeds will contribute to the sustainability of the athletics program. Earlier this year U-M applied $1.5 million from the contract to need-based financial aid. The arrangement also will lead to professional internships and career placement services in major media for Big Ten students.
Big Ten programming highlights
"The Michigan Difference" and "Healthy U," two 30-minute, magazine-styled shows that showcase faculty, students and alumni who personify The Michigan Difference will debut at 5 p.m. Thursday on the Big Ten Channel.
The first episode of "The Michigan Difference," shot in high-definition, features stories about kinesiology student Patrick Georgoff who founded Crossing Borders, a humanitarian organization; a climate change research team that includes School of Natural Resources and Environment Dean Rosina Bierbaum and professors Mary Anne Carroll and Joyce Penner; and a profile of alumnus Aaron Dworkin and the Sphinx organization. Short "bumpers" between stories will provide local color through interviews with students, faculty and others on campus, and around Ann Arbor.
"Healthy U" will focus on health and medical research from the U-M Health System, hosted by Dr. Howard Markel, George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and director of the Center for the History of Medicine. The program consists of short features on medical issues and tips for healthier living, such as minimally invasive brain surgery, a blog of two medical students and laser tattoo removal.
The programs capitalize on the Big Ten Network contract that gives member universities the ability to air up to 60 hours of programming a year about University people and their contributions to the world. The flexible magazine-style format makes it possible to capture a wide variety of stories, disciplines and people across U-M.
"The Michigan Difference": 5 p.m. Thursday. Replays: 4 a.m. Sept. 10, 10 a.m. Sept. 12, 5 p.m. Sept. 20, 4 a.m. Sept. 24, 10 a.m. Sept. 26.
"Healthy U": 4 p.m. Sept. 13. Replays: 5 a.m. Sept. 17, 11 a.m. Sept. 19 and 5 p.m. Sept. 27.
Evolution Media, formerly Victor/Harder Productions, produces the programming. Executive producers Fran Victor and Bill Harder are both U-M alumni, and co-founders of the film production company based in West Bloomfield, Mich.