An official for Atlantic Broadband, Blair County's largest cable provider, said Wednesday it is ''not really looking encouraging'' that the Big Ten Network will be available to viewers for the college football season.
Penn State opens up in 16 days against Coastal Carolina, a game that will be broadcast by the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions' fourth game, against Temple, also will air on the network, along with at least one yet to be determined Big Ten contest.
Unless a deal can be reached - which appears unlikely - those three PSU games and perhaps one more will not be available to Atlantic Broadband customers.
''There really hasn't been any movement,'' David Dane, vice president of operations for Atlantic Broadband, said of negotiations with BTN.
Dane later added, ''I'm not trying to throw a wet blanket on the discussions because we're always open. But it just really doesn't look all that compelling or encouraging.''
It also, Dane added, doesn't seem to be all that big of a deal to Atlantic Broadband customers.
''You'll write an article about this, and it will generate some interest,'' Dane said. ''But compared to this time last year, even though the interest level was mild a year ago, it's less than mild right now at this point in time. And we're [just more than two weeks away] from the home opener, so I think you can draw a conclusion from that.''
Atlantic Broadband has remained consistent in its stance that the Big Ten Network does not belong on an expanded basic cable package. The network, which debuted in August of 2007, has stayed true to that demand in negotiations with most cable providers.
The Big Ten Network recently reached a deal with Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, to be included on expanded basic packages in several states with Big Ten members. That deal goes into effect Friday and stipulates that after the 2008-09 basketball season, Comcast can switch BTN to a digital tier of service.
Atlantic Broadband has stated all along the network belongs on a digital tier, which customers can receive for an extra cost.
''Our position has not changed,'' Dane said. ''We feel that it's a service that we would like to have, but we don't feel that it's a service that belongs on our level of service that 90 percent of our customers receive - the value lineup. We just don't think it belongs there.
''We're just still wary of the low level of content that's going to be on in terms of the price that's being asked for the product,'' Dane added. ''So that's translating into less than huge interest on our part in pursuing anything regarding the Big Ten Network.''
Negotiations are ongoing between Atlantic Broadband and Fox, the distributor of the Big Ten Network, and Dane would not rule out a deal being reached. But he didn't sound optimistic, either.
''Never say never,'' Dane said, ''but again, on our part there's no burning desire to open up real discussions on the Big Ten Network.''
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.