WASHINGTON — Managers of the Big Ten Network arrived in the area Monday and said they expected to broadcast four to six Maryland football games this season and as many as 20 men's basketball games.
Other Maryland football and basketball games will be televised as well, but it's not yet certain by whom.
Maryland's long-awaited move to the Big Ten Conference becomes official today, and Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman hosted a breakfast meeting with the media on Monday in Washington. Rutgers is joining the conference at the same time.
The conference's contract with its television rights holders calls for all football games in Big Ten stadiums to be broadcast by somebody, not necessarily the Big Ten Network.
Maryland plays two nonconference opponents on the road: South Florida and Syracuse. For nonconference away games, the home team's conference has TV rights agreements that dictate whether games will be shown. CBS Sports Network is airing the South Florida game.
For years, Maryland fans complained that too many Terps football games — usually those against non-marquee opponents — ended up relegated to ESPN's Internet streams instead of broadcast on live television.
In addition to the Big Ten Network, the Big Ten has several television rights holders, including ABC/ESPN for football and ABC/ESPN and CBS for basketball.
The Big Ten Network — currently in more than 52 million homes in the United States and Canada — was an important selling point for Maryland, which decided in November 2012 to join the Big Ten.
“We need to come on the air as if these schools have been part of the Big Ten forever,” Silverman said. He said the network is in the process of recruiting new on-air talent and that he doesn't want it to be viewed “as only a promotional mouthpiece” for the conference.
“If we're not critical and candid, no one's going to watch us,” Silverman said.
Silverman and the network provided a number of facts about their plans:
The network plans to broadcast dozens of games in 2014-15 in Maryland men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, baseball and other sports. Lacrosse — including conference tournaments — is part of the offerings.
“We will know our basketball [schedule] probably in the next month or so,” Silverman said. About 20 Maryland men's games will be shown, the network said.
Men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski said he has been told that four of his team's games will be televised next season by the network.
“That's already a huge boost” from when Maryland was in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Cirovski said.
Big Ten football games are divided up each week among the Big Ten Network and other rights holders. ABC/ESPN gets the first pick. During the course of the season, the Big Ten Network gets three second picks, three third picks and a number of fourth and fifth selections.
For football, the Big Ten Network's cable and satellite partners carry extra channels, allowing the conference to offer games simultaneously. The spillover channels are available only during Saturdays in the fall.
Starting times for some Maryland football games are set and some will be decided later. The Terps-Michigan State game on Nov. 15 will start at 8 p.m., on the Big Ten Network.
An app, BTN2Go, can be accessed by subscribers of many video providers on tablets, smartphones, and PCs.
The Big Ten Network said it has deals in place in Maryland allowing cable and satellite customers in the state to obtain the network without subscribing to a separate sports tier. In effect, the arrangement means Maryland and Rutgers fans will generally have the same access to the network as fans in the home states of other Big Ten schools.