Big Ten Network to commit to event equality for men’s and women’s sports

Published 12:16 pm Friday, June 22, 2007

By Staff
PARK RIDGE, Ill. – On the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Big Ten Network, Big Ten 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. Delany announced this historic commitment to gender equity today during a media teleconference outlining the progress of the Big Ten Network.
"The Big Ten has an incredible history of supporting gender equity and today's announcement signals our continued dedication to women's athletics," said Delany. "The Big Ten Network's commitment to 'event equality' is a first in the history of a national sports network. Combined with the compelling athletic competition, university-produced programming and alcohol-free advertising policy, today's announcement positions this enterprise as the most balanced and equitable sports network in America today – one in total alignment with the values of our great universities."
"The network's commitment to airing an unprecedented amount of women's events sets a compelling example for other networks – and conferences – to follow," agreed Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman. "As women's sports increases in popularity across the country, the Big Ten Network will be well-positioned to expand this appeal more broadly than ever before."
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 three. 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. Today's announcement highlights the Big Ten's ongoing dedication to gender equity, which is aligned with the commitment of conference institutions to provide fairness for all female student-athletes.
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 will launch in August with 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 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 40 other cable operators within the eight states of the Big Ten. In total, the network currently is available to viewers in 16 million homes.
The sports programming on the Big Ten Network and alternative network-controlled platforms will include, but is not limited to:
In addition to airing more coverage of Big Ten sports than ever before, the Big Ten Network will also provide numerous benefits to communities around the Big Ten, including increased exposure for women's sports, providing positive role models for girls; a greater economic impact to the communities from added sporting event production, with the potential to generate higher attendance; and greater national exposure for the excellence that surrounds the academic endeavors of Big Ten universities, some of the most highly regarded in the nation.
Also, an internship program at each of the 11 universities will offer 110 students training for careers in sports, television and entertainment.