The Big Ten Network appears on its way to most homes in Michigan.
According to a source close to the negotiations, Comcast and the BTN have made significant progress toward a deal and only an unforeseen setback would prevent it from being on the cable system by football season.
Considering the animosity between the sides much of last fall and into the winter Comcast ran negative ads, especially on radio, attacking BTN a finalized deal would be significant.
Currently, BTN is mostly available in Michigan on DirecTV, Dish Network and Wide Open West with small pockets of AT&T U-verse as well.
But in a market dominated by Comcast, those affiliates reached only about 30% of homes in metro Detroit.
Sports Business Journal, which reported a deal was close in its Monday edition, said Comcast has agreed to place the network on expanded basic in most of the Big Ten footprint, but not all.
"We cannot comment specifically on the report in Sports Business Journal, other to say that the two sides continue to talk and continue to make progress. Beyond that, we cannot comment further," said Elizabeth Conlisk, vice president of communications for Big Ten Network.
While the cable company had previously insisted on placing the network on a sports tier, that demand appears to be relaxed.
We continue to negotiate with the Big Ten for an agreement fair for all our customers, said Patrick Paterno, direct of communications for Comcast Michigan Region.
Comcast has nearly 5.8 million subscribers in the Big Ten footprint, with a significant presence in the Detroit and Chicago area.
Fox and BTN representatives had no comment on the negotiations.
Other major cable companies, including Time Warner and Charter, have yet to sign deals and there have been no reports of progress in those talks.