The Big Ten Network and Comcast have reached a deal for distribution in Maryland and New Jersey, according to ESPN, a move that comes just a week before the University of Maryland will formally join the conference.
The deal is the latest in a string of moves by the Big Ten to solidify its presence on the East Coast ahead of Maryland and Rutgers joining the fold. The Big Ten Network struck deals with Time Warner and Cablevision in May, and the deal with Comcast represents expansion to a wider audience in the Washington area.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN: “It indicates that the Eastern initiative is moving forward in the direction we hoped it would,” Delany said, “and that it means that Big Ten fans and college sports fans will be able to access 24/7 BTN on basic or digital basic carriage. Our goal was to achieve distribution in New York and D.C., Maryland and New Jersey.”
Wednesday’s news was greeted with enthusiasm from Maryland Head Coach Randy Edsall on Twitter:
— Randy Edsall (@RandyEdsall) June 25, 2014
The Big Ten Network plans to broadcast at least 40 football games this fall, and has tabbed the Maryland-Michigan State matchup in College Park on November 15 as the prime time game that week. Kickoff will be at 8 p.m.
It was the latest move by the Big Ten to make inroads into the D.C. market; the Chicago-based conference announced in May that it would bring the 2017 Big Ten men’s basketball tournament to the Verizon Center, and planned to open a satellite office in D.C. this summer. Maryland will officially join the Big Ten on July 1, and has a series of events planned to celebrate the occasion.