Big Ten Network slashes academic programming, cites low quality and ratings

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The “student” in “student-athlete” may have taken a step back at the Big Ten Network.

According to the Associated Press, the network will be cutting “academic programming,” which, at its inception, was supposed to give the “the ability to highlight academic achievement throughout the universities.”

Now, citing low ratings and low production quality, university presidents have decided to cut back on the promised 660 hours of yearly programming.

“Most of them didn’t have the resources to produce the shows. It was always set up to be at their cost, not the network’s,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told the AP. “We were willing to give the time, but the universities had to create the shows. When we came up with the number of hours, we didn’t know what the schools were capable of producing.”

It was a valiant effort though, wasn’t it?

The network hopes that filling the space with other programming will boost ratings and not alienate certain fanbases.

But, it seems, the root of it is the conference’s bottom line. Academic programming wasn’t bringing in the money, so it will be replaced. Of course it is a savvy business decision, but some may see it as a symbol.

As much as the NCAA pushes the academic and “student” side of the game, a concerted effort to feature certain schools just isn’t working out.

“You can make both sides of the argument as far as the type of programming that should be viewed on there and I understand that,” said Scott Ketelsen, director of Iowa’s marketing and media production. “But in this day of tight budgets and purse strings being pulled tight, something like BTN being successful and infusing money back into the universities is huge.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_