Saturday, October 13, 2007

How bad is the Big 10 network for college football?

I live in Columbus, Ohio where the Ohio State Buckeyes are king. If you ever want to avoid a crowd in a public place, go there during an Ohio State Game because everybody else will be watching the game. This city is obsessed and pretty much looses their minds when they can’t see the game on any given Saturday.

Enter the Big Ten Network. Powered by Fox broadcasting the Big Ten network was designed to provide the schools of the Big Ten (all eleven of them) with televised promotion of the universities, course broadcasts and sports broadcasts. This all sounds great until Time Warner and Comcast, the two biggest cable networks in the Midwest refuse to carry the Big Ten Network on basic cable.

The argument by the cable companies is that Big Ten Network wants $1.10 per subscriber from the cable company. Given the millions of subscribers of Time Warner and Comcast this will fill Big Ten Network’s piggy bank quite quickly. However, The big cable companies don’t want to provide every basic cable user with this fairly niche channel at a loss of $1.10 per customer until the next billing rate increase rolls around.

On the other hand the smaller regional cable companies, trying to gain local market share away from the monoliths have adopted the Big Ten Network at the network’s demands.

Where the Big Ten Network is gaining its worthwhile material is on a day like today, given an obsessed audience still wants to see Ohio State cream Kent State 45 – 3. In the past this would have been an ESPN+ game. A game recorded by ESPN at a financial loss for the purpose of thorough sports reporting and broadcast almost exclusively on the Columbus, Ohio ABC Affiliate. The local broadcast channel can then sell ad time at a premium because even though it’s a pathetic excuse for competition the hype surrounding this game keeps the whole city watching so there are guaranteed eyes on the TV at that time.

Since college football is such a regional appeal there is no guarantee that all basic cable subscribers would want to watch Big Ten games in Time Warner and Comcast serviced areas not lying between Happy Valley and the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Living in the Midwest there’s less college football on TV this year. At noon none of the broadcast networks were showing football today and whereas in the past I would have had options to watch other Big Ten games on on the local broadcast channels broadcasting ESPN broadcasts of games unfit for cable. Instead they were all showing a wide variety of infomercals and movies staring David Schwimmer. I ended up finding a close game between the Hawkeyes and Illini because ESPEN2 secured the rights to that game somehow.

Even if I had Big Ten Network I would have only benefited from one more game since Purdue at Michigan was also a Big Ten Network game and here in ohio we would have only been shown #3 Ohio State beat up on a MAC school.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are neglecting to mention this fact about the Big Ten Network: this $1.10 fee would be paid year round 12 times a year and nobody cares what is on this network other than 3 football game in September and October.