Fans of the Big Ten Network (BTN) know it as a sports network dedicated to covering the institutions that make up the Big Ten Conference. However, prior to its launch in 2007, the network was relatively unknown to local cable providers. In 2007 and 2008, LS2group represented the BT in an effort to convince every cable provider in Iowa to carry the BTN as part of their basic cable package for consumers.
The LS2group public relations team used the following strategies to demonstrate demand for the BTN while network executives and Iowa cable providers negotiated terms.
- In 2007, LS2group worked with the University of Iowa’s administration, athletic department, and alumni association to develop a strategic plan for promoting and generating interest in the new network. In conjunction with the University of Iowa, LS2group created a timeline of events and publicity that highlighted the value of the BTN to Hawkeye fans and Iowans.
- LS2group and the University of Iowa generated news through traditional and nontraditional media outlets targeting Hawkeye fans, Iowa alumni, faculty, and parents of Iowa students. We were able to promote the BTN through a series of timely articles and inserts in campus generated materials and season ticket promotions.
- In cooperation with the University of Iowa, LS2group organized a media tour with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and BTN President Mark Silverman. This included a press conference, as well as editorial board meetings with the Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Lee Newspapers, and the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald. LS2group also set up sports talk radio interviews in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
- LS2group organized meetings with mayors and members of city councils in several of Iowa’s larger communities to discuss the advantages the BTN would have promoting the University of Iowa and the state of Iowa.
- LS2group identified a large number of elected officials throughout Iowa who were graduates of Big Ten universities as we continued to build support for the network.
- LS2group created visibility for the BTN at Iowa Hawkeye athletic events using banners, t-shirts, and giveaways. LS2group distributed and collected supporter postcards at these events.
- When the network began, 98 Iowa cable providers in the state offered their customers the BTN. Mediacom, Iowa’s largest cable provider and the BTN did not come to terms the first year of the network. However, in August 2008 Mediacom and the BTN finally agreed to contract terms.
As a result of LS2group’s coordinated effort with the BTN and the University of Iowa, every cable television consumer in Iowa has access to the BTN and the University of Iowa programming.