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Big Ten Network Dispute Has Major Wisconsin Implications

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Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman could have a major impact on if you can watch the Badgers on TV in their season opener Saturday.
Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman could have a major impact on if you can watch the Badgers on TV in their season opener Saturday.

Planning on plopping down on your couch Saturday afternoon to watch the Wisconsin football season opener vs Norther Iowa on your favorite TV? Maybe you plan on cooking up some brats and throwing down a few barley pops?

Better hope you don't have Dish Network.

The game is scheduled to be broadcast on the Big Ten Network at 2:30 local time. The problem? Due to a contract dispute, the satellite television provider Dish Network is planning on dropping the Big Ten Network from its channel lineup starting tomorrow, September 1st.

Dish Network currently has 2.4 million homes that receive the Big Ten Network, including 2.1M in Big Ten states. Dropping the channel could mean that hundreds of thousands of Badger fans will not be able to watch Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball and the Badgers in their season opener.

Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman placed the blame on Dish Network, to no one's surprise according to Terry Hutchens of the Indy Star.

"The network isn't looking for anything of any particular note. It's just that we're dealing with a company that, so far, is really looking for extreme preferential treatment,'' Silverman said after the sides met Wednesday.

Hutchens also notes that Dish Network released a statement Wednesday night stating it continues to negotiate a deal that offers "customers high quality programming at a good value."

Basically what has happened is that the agreement between the Big Ten Network and Dish Network is scheduled to expire today (August 31st, 2012). The Big Ten Network claims they have "offered proposals to DISH that are consistent with the current market value for BTN."

Aka, the Big Ten Network wants more money, and Dish Network refuses to pay more than they are currently paying right now.

In a sense, you have to respect Dish Network's position. If they let the Big Ten Network push them around and force them to pay more money, that money comes out of the pockets of their subscribers.

In the end, the real losers here are the fans who are looking to watch their favorite team from the comfort of their own homes.

If this dispute isn't settled soon, I'd start making other plans to watch Saturday's season opener.

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