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SportsTerps

With Big Ten Network, Maryland fans will begin to see more of the big picture

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COLLEGE PARK — Maryland's membership in the Big Ten Conference next season means that all Terps home football games will be televised, according to the Big Ten Network.

Home games will appear on the Big Ten Network, ABC or one of the ESPN networks. The conference's contract with its television rights holders calls for all home football games to be broadcast.

There is no guarantee that all away games will be televised. For nonconference away games, the home team's conference has TV rights agreements that dictate whether games will be shown.

For years, Maryland fans have complained that too many Terps football games — usually those against nonmarquee opponents — have ended up relegated to ESPN's Internet streams instead of broadcast on live television.

Television revenue and national exposure were significant factors in Maryland's decision to join the Big Ten a year ago. The Atlantic Coast Conference does not have its own television network, although it is studying the idea. In April, the league signed a multiyear media rights deal with ESPN.

The Big Ten Network, a joint venture between subsidiaries of the conference and Fox Cable Networks, broadcasts about 40 football and 115 men's basketball games per year.

The network was founded in 2007 as a partnership owned 51 percent by the Big Ten, which provides the content, and 49 percent by Fox Entertainment Group.

Today, it reaches an estimated 52 million households nationally through agreements with cable, satellite and telco affiliates in all 50 states and Canada. Deals are now in place with Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and others.

In addition to the Big Ten Network, the conference has several different television rights holders, including ABC/ESPN for football and ABC/ESPN and CBS for basketball.

For football, the Big Ten Network's cable and satellite partners carry extra channels, allowing the conference to offer multiple games simultaneously. "Each provider determines how many extra channels it offers, although in Big Ten states the vast majority of partners offer all the channels," the network said in a written statement to The Baltimore Sun. The spillover channels are available only during Saturdays in the fall.

The network also streams additional events. A subscription-based app, BTN2Go International, can be used worldwide.

"Our business is a global business now," Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said. "If we don't take that on and position ourselves as a global entity, then we'll all miss the boat. So part of the attraction to the Big Ten Network and the Big Ten was allowing us to take this step."

Maryland opens its Big Ten football schedule at Indiana on Sept. 27, followed by a home game against Ohio State the following week.

In response to queries, the Big Ten Network also said it expects to broadcast five to seven Maryland football games itself in 2014, 18 to 25 Maryland men's basketball games in 2014-15, and another 40 to 50 Maryland games in women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, baseball and other sports.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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