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BTN Starting a Public Relations Assault on Dish Network

Big-ten-logo-pentagram_mediumIf you use Facebook or Twitter, you've undoubtedly seen the PR push by the Big Ten against Dish Network. Dish Network's agreement with BTN expires on Friday, and the BTN's says that the two parties are far apart. Hence, BTN is going public with their campaign:

Of course, the devil is in the details of these disagreements. Seemingly anymore, these disagreements are commonplace between most networks and some providers. Sometimes it's a cable company, sometimes it's DirecTV. This time, it's Dish Network. What's the disagreement? Dish Network isn't commenting, but BTN is being loud and clear.

Note that BTN is claiming they want to "match current market value". What does that mean? That's a good question. "Current market value" is vague, but in all likelihood, it's more than what Dish Network is currently paying. And that's the issue. Ever wonder why your cable or satellite bill keeps going up? Ever wonder where television networks get all of the money to spend on bigger and bigger television contracts? Both are interrelated. Sure, cable and satellite providers spend money on things other than programming. Sure, networks get advertising revenue to help offset the rights fees they pay. But a lot of those increased payouts for contracts are getting passed onto the cable companies. And like any other business, when their costs go up, they pass it onto their consumers.

What does "special treatment" mean? Hard to say, but I'd speculate that since other providers have agreed to pay BTN's current rate, paying anything else means "special treatment."

On Saturday, will the BTN channels go dark on Dish Network? Quite possibly. Typically these disputes linger on until something forces the issue. And if you are a Dish Network subscriber, you know that AMC is still unavailable on Dish Network.

Should Husker fans panic? BTN wants you to. If Dish starts losing customers over this, that puts pressure on Dish to give in. But this works both ways; if Dish gives in, every other cable network knows they can hold out for more money as well and win. And keep in mind that every provider has had this battle with one network or another. So while you might be able to watch BTN on Saturday if you switch, you might find another network getting pulled from the new provider.

So let's look at this practically. On the Nebraska football schedule, only two games over the next couple of months don't have television plans. Idaho State and Northwestern. The Northwestern game is not until October 20th; this undoubtedly will be resolved by then. Idaho State? Well, you never know, but frankly, does anybody worry about this game?

Volleyball might be a little more of a pressing matter. A September 19th match at Penn State is on the schedule, and after that, a September 26th match against Michigan State and a October 5th match at Purdue. I still figure that BTN and Dish will figure this out in a few weeks, but that Penn State match is likely at risk.

I'm not taking sides in this matter; ideally both parties will find a way to compromise by Saturday morning. But it could be a bumpy ride.