By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Finally, the Big Ten Network and Comcast Corp. reached a deal.
The BTN and the Philadelphia-based cable carrier announced a multiyear agreement Thursday that previews programming on expanded basic on Aug. 15 in states with Big Ten schools: Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Comcast doesn't have any subscribers in Iowa, the eighth Big Ten state.
Outside these states, Comcast has the option to move the channel on its Sports Entertainment Package and other tiers. After the 2008-09 basketball season ends, Comcast has the option to shift the network to its digital service.
Comcast has agreed to pay about 70 cents per subscriber to the Big Ten, which had sought $1.10.
It's the first major cable operator to agree to carry the network.
"Beginning this season, nearly 90 percent of the homes in Indiana will be able to enjoy Big Ten Network programming as an element of their cable television package," said Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan. "This exposure and coverage will enable Hoosier fans to see more live IU game action than ever before."
The parties negotiated for more than a year -- at times contentiously -- with the Big Ten insisting it only would agree to a deal that put the new network on Comcast's basic level of service at a price the company wasn't willing to pay.
"We know that these past few months have been difficult for many of our fans, and we're pleased that everyone involved was flexible enough to do what it takes to reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable," Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said in a written statement.
Comcast has about 5 million customers with basic cable and 4 million with digital in Big Ten states. The sports network is owned by the Big Ten Conference and Fox Cable Networks.
AP Business Writer Deborah Yao in Philadelphia contributed to this report.