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July 23, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Among the many initiatives of the Big Ten Network will be unprecedented coverage of women's athletics, with coverage of most of Penn State's 14 women's programs during the network's inaugural year.
In June, Commissioner James E. Delany revealed that the Big Ten Network will become the first national network to commit to "event equality" for men's and women's sports on all network-controlled media within the first three years of launch.
In its first year, the Big Ten Network will already feature more conference women's athletics than ever before, making up nearly 40 percent of the programming. The network's commitment to "event equality" signals its intention to produce and distribute an equal number of men's and women's events by year No. 3. This "event equality" will provide the largest concentration of women's athletics on any national network in history while also providing more coverage to conference men's sports than ever before by utilizing all available network-controlled media.
The Big Ten Network will air more 600 hours of Penn State programming during its inaugural year, which begins with the August 30 launch of the national network. The network also will air at least 60 hours of Penn State non-athletic programming on an annual basis.
The network will boast a programming lineup unparalleled in college sports television today, featuring between 350 and 400 live events including football, men's and women's basketball, Olympic sports, available conference championships and more original high-definition programming than any new network in television history.
The Penn State women's volleyball, soccer and field hockey teams all will make multiple appearances on the Big Ten Network this fall, with the complete fall schedule to be announced soon. The network will air more than 55 women's basketball games during its inaugural year, including nine games from the Big Ten Tournament, and more than 170 Olympic sport events in 2007-08.
"Although we have seen growth in multi-media exposure for women's sports over the years, the Big Ten's promotion of women's athletics and the planned exposure and coverage in future years is unprecedented," stated Susan Delaney-Scheetz, Penn State Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. "Having the opportunity to watch women's sports on standard and HD channels, in addition to broadband internet video has the potential to grow the fan support base and encourage young girls to participate in a wide variety of sport activities.
"The network will mirror the Big Ten philosophy of academic integrity and sport excellence by showcasing all sports and highlighting different aspects of all the Big Ten institutions," she added.
Since starting Big Ten competition in 1991-92, Penn State's women's programs have won 42 Big Ten regular season championships or tournament titles. During 2006-07, the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team won its 10th Big Ten Championship and became the first volleyball program in the conference to win four consecutive outright titles. The women's soccer team has won nine consecutive Big Ten Championships, tied for the second-longest streak in conference history among women's sports. The Penn State field hockey program has captured eight Big Ten titles, including the 2005 championship.
"I look forward to the exposure the Big Ten Network is going to provide for the fans of Olympic sports and those committed to following their favorite Big Ten teams and sports," stated Russ Rose, head coach of the women's volleyball team and eight-time Big Ten Coach of the Year honoree.
"The Big Ten Network will allow all of our athletes to experience every child's dream of playing in front of a sell-out crowd on television," Erica Walsh, women's soccer coach said. "For a championship program like ours, this will set us above what the rest of our competing conferences are able to provide in television coverage. It will elevate Penn State University and the Big Ten Conference into a class of its own and is just another example of how our conference partnership keeps us on the cutting edge."
The Big Ten has a strong history of supporting gender equity, including becoming the first conference to voluntarily adopt male/female participation goals for student-athletes in 1992. The Big Ten initiated a five-year plan for conference members to commit to a 60 percent/40 percent male to female student-athlete participation ratio which was achieved as a conference in 1997, with all schools individually meeting this goal by 2000. Over the past five years, the Big Ten has maintained on average a 53 percent/47 percent male to female participation ratio. Since 1992, Big Ten institutions have created in excess of 2,000 new opportunities for women's student-athletes and established 28 new women's teams.
The Big Ten Network is a national television network, available to all cable and satellite providers nationwide, that will allow fans to see their home teams regardless of where they live. The network currently has national agreements in place with DirecTV and AT&T and also a local agreement with Buckeye CableSystem in Toledo, Ohio, for more than 150,000 subscribers in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. Additionally, the network has agreements pending with more than 80 other cable operators within the eight states of the Big Ten. In total, the network currently is available to viewers in more than 16 million homes. The Big Ten Network is a joint venture between subsidiaries of the Big Ten Conference and Fox Cable Networks.
To get the Big Ten Network, Penn State fans should visit www.BigTenNetwork.com and enter your zip code, which will then provide a link to the cable providers in your area, as well as DirecTV and Dish Network, to make a request for them to carry the Big Ten Network.
For more information regarding the Big Ten Network, visit www.BigTenNetwork.com.