Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Big Ten Network

So my alma mater, The University of Michigan, has sucked this year in college football, though they are showing some signs of life. Which is probably why I've been so late in posting anything about the Big Ten Network. For those who don't know, The Big Ten Conference created a cable station to show their sporting events (along with other programming). Comcast has been fighting against adding this station because of the costs they would have to pass along to consumers. I'm actually not aware of the all the details, but that's a very general description of the situation.

Anyway, this has been a big issue, especially in the Midwest a la Big Ten country. And I think both sides are wrong and both sides are being short-sighted. However, the general impression I get is that most people are upset with The Big Ten (advertising has been very effective). So I'm guessing this post will sound more like I'm defending them. But it's really just to get some thoughts out there I'm surprised aren't being repeated more.

Obviously The Big Ten can do whatever it wants with regard to its sports. However, they NEED their fans. There would have been no issue if Comcast just blindly agreed to carry their new network. It would have been a major coup. Increased revenue along with legitimacy in Year 1 for a new cable station with no major disruption in service to their fans. Since Comcast would not just roll over, there are some major obstacles.

Living in Chicago, no one cares about hockey. The Blackhawks, one of the sports original franchises, is not even on the sports radar. It's quite sad. And I blame it all to greed. The greed that lead the organization to take the Blackhawks off local TV and make all their games pay-per-view. I would argue that has been the biggest cause to the Blackhawks demise, even greater than the decline of the league itself. For if you make it hard for people to find and follow your product, they will just find something easier. Except for the die-hards. Which is exactly the concern The Big Ten should have. The effect may not be noticeable even from year to year. But 10 years down the road when your league is considered a mid-tier league, you can start looking at this decision to understand what happened.

Yet it's hard to completely fault The Big Ten Network. Recent history shows us that it takes time for new cable stations to become part of the regular package. When I was in college, Comedy Central shared a station with Court TV (Comedy Central evenings, Court TV during the day). And that was only 10 years ago. It even took years for ESPN2 and then ESPN News and ESPN Classic to become available, even with the success of The Worldwide Leader. Is it really unreasonable for The Big Ten Network to assume that within 5 years they will be available on Comcast and all wikll be forgotten?

The biggest problem I have with Comcast is their argument - why should be force all of our customers to pay for The Big Ten Network? It's actually a very powerful argument. However, it is so very flawed. It's based on the premise that we have some form of an a la carte cable environment today. We do not. I pay for many stations I do not ever watch and if given the choice I would gladly do without. There are a shit ton of religious stations that would fail to exist if we actually had an a la carte system. For every Big Ten Network that someone else may be subsidizing, there are stations such as the religious stations and Fox News that I am subsidizing. In the end it should all even out. If you feel like you are getting screwed, then cancel your cable. It's your right as a consumer. Remember those great market forces that are all the rage. So until we get to an a la carte system I do not want to hear that excuse. I believe we will actually get to that system. I would gladly pay for HBO if I could remove 20 current stations and pay the same monthly price. But until we have those options, Comcast is being disingeneous to their consumers with regard to The Big Ten Network. I call bullshit.

All that being said, it's also easy living in Chicago. I can just walk down the street, stop in a bar, and watch any game I want.


*Big Ten*Big Ten Network *Comcast *cable*a la carte*Chicago *University of Michigan


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Main

Life is Crap: A blog covering: humor, news, politics, music, movies, tv, sports, and other things.
Questions? Comments? Death Threats? Suggestions? Contact us: thecrapspot@yahoo.com
(Home) (Archives) (Next page) (Subscribe to Life is Crap)