UPDATE (3:54 PM)
Brendan Quinn of The Athletic Detroit reached out to media relations at Comcast and this was the response given.
Reached out to Comcast media relations regarding this Big Ten Network scrap.— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) April 12, 2018
Here is official clarification from the corporate office.
"In-market feed of Big Ten Network is still available - and will continue to be available - to our customers in Big Ten states." pic.twitter.com/q2ncJrbc87
If you’re not in a Big Ten state, it’s time to find a new way to watch. If you are, Comcast will be just fine.
UPDATE (3:48 PM)
So, it seems now that Comcast in Big Ten states, like Illinois, will still carry Big Ten Network.
Comcast corrected itself in a tweet through its inconsistent Twitter account, @comcastcares.
The out-of-market Big Ten Network feed, which was carried on the Sports & Entertainment package in non-Big Ten states, was dropped. The Big Ten Network in-market feed, available to customers in Big Ten states in their regular channel line-up, will continue to be available. -MSA— ComcastCares (@comcastcares) April 12, 2018
It’s still not very clear if it will be carried past May 10, but this would make it seem as you’ll still have BTN in Big Ten states.
But BTN, where a big selling point was that it was a national network across the country, still gets somewhat screwed by Comcast in this situation.
I’m just a broadcast journalism major at the University of Illinois, so I’m not going to play this off like I’m some media expert who has all the answers, especially when Comcast isn’t providing them.
But, as reported several times on Twitter on Thursday, including by Purdue’s SB Nation page “Hammer and Rails” and Yahoo’s college football blog “Dr. Saturday,” it seems Comcast will be dropping Big Ten Network by May 10 — if it has not already.
Hi Joe. I apologize for any inconvenience. At this time, BTN has been removed from our line-ups as of April 11th in most regions, while some regions are still under contract until May 10th. You can still watch most live games at https://t.co/zNsVuJ9XxK - Noah— ComcastCares (@comcastcares) April 12, 2018
I’m not really interested in going to an entire public relations analysis of Comcast and how horribly they have handled this situation. (Was it really the best choice for this to be announced via DMs and a reply tweet?)
But, what I’ll try to take as stab at right now is what this means for you: Illini fans.
Illinois has fallen pretty hard in athletics over the past decade. That’s obvious. We write about that every single day. Over that time, Big Ten Network has grown (significantly), and the Illini have been broadcast on ESPN and CBS much less. The Illini have played less than five men’s basketball games on ESPN over the past two seasons, with nearly the same amount being broadcast exclusively on BTNPlus, a student-run broadcast you have to pay for online.
Comcast is the world’s biggest broadcast cable and television company, and it has over 22.5 million TV subscribers. Nearly everyone I know has Xfinity for their cable, and even the dorms and residence halls on campus have Xfinity cable TV.
All of those people will suddenly be without Big Ten Network, which, for a fanbase that hasn’t shown up in person in recent years, has at least seemingly been watching on television.
Maybe you’ve already been cord-cutting and found other ways to watch the Illini. If not, the time might be now, and it should be very soon.
From the Hammer and Rails article:
Of course, with the rise of streaming TV packages, like Playstation Vue, DirecTV Now, and Youtube TV, there are options for those whose only cable option was Comcast and can help BTN recover lost subscribers. BTN’s average subscription fee was 48 cents, and I’m not entirely sure how many BTN subscribers came through Comcast. While those who want BTN will use the previously mentioned streaming services, one has to assume that this could take a bite into BTN and Big Ten Conference’s budget, as many of those BTN subscribers may have had the channel by default since it was included in their package, even if they didn’t watch it.
So whether this means purchasing a BTN2GO package of only Illinois athletics or an entire Big Ten package, Illinois sports is only going to continue moving away from ESPN, CBS and other stations.
Potentially this means nothing to you. But if you want to be watching the Illini going forward and have Comcast, go find a different way. Now.