Big Ten Network

[Note: I began this post a while ago just about the Big Ten Network. I missed 3 Badger football games this year, and I am going to miss many Badger basketball games, so I am not happy with them. I really didn’t care about the NFL Network until this week, when I found out that the Green Bay/Dallas matchup (you know, perhaps the biggest game of the conference this year), will be on the NFL Network and so I am not going to be able to watch it either. So you can replace the Big Ten with the NFL for the remainder of this post because my argument is the same for both of them.]

Hi, I'm Charter Communications, a racist lackey of imperial ruling circles.
Hi, I'm the Big Ten Conference, a badass commie nigger.
Sounds like the basis of a firm friendship.

The Big Ten Network was set up by the Big Ten Conference in August of last year. This year they began carrying games. The agreement with the Big Ten Conference guarantees that each football team is guaranteed to make at least two appearances on the network per year and one of them will be a conference game, and each Big Ten men's basketball team will make 15-20 appearances on the Big Ten Network each winter. Unfortunately for those of us here who would like to watch these games, Charter Communications (which is the cable provider I currently use) and Time Warner have not reached an agreement with the Big Ten Network on how to offer the network to customers. Both the Big Ten and Charter have spent the last year blaming the other for the fact that fans are unable to watch games, and urging fans to call the other and tell them to cave to their demands. Both are in the wrong.

The Big Ten is not a respectable network. It's a whorehouse network, and it has to take whatever it can get.

They are not looking to give fans what they want. They want to increase revenue and increase profile. If they created the network for the fans, they would let the bigger games stay on the networks with more viewers, and just carry the games that would otherwise be left off TV. Instead they made sure to carry games that we would be upset if we missed in an attempt to get more leverage on the cable companies and get more money. The Big Ten is extorting fans by taking games from networks the fans have access to and putting them on a network that some have to pay extra for and others can’t even purchase if they wanted to. If they actually had the fans best interests in mind, they would lower their demands. But the Big Ten, and for that matter, all Big Ten school football programs, are not in it for the fans, or academics, or anything else they always claim are their top priorities. Their top priority is $.

So, I don't think I'll listen to any protestations of high standards of journalism when you're right down on the streets soliciting audiences like the rest of us. Look, all I'm saying is if you're going to hustle, at least do it right.

Charter claims that they want to put the BTN on a sports tier so only those who want it have to pay for it. This makes no sense when you look at the way Charter sells cable to customers. They have a virtual monopoly on providing cable. They can charge whatever they want and we have to take it if we want cable. They can add the BTN to expanded cable and raise the price and we will take it. If they are really concerned with limiting costs for customers and not forcing them to pay for channels they don’t want, then why even have packages? Put everything on an a la carte system and let customers choose which networks they want. What Charter offers is like a movie theater only selling tickets to No Country for Old Men bundled with tickets for Enchanted. Sure, they may only charge the price of one and a half tickets, so they’ll say they are saving you money. But if no one going to see one movie sees the other then the customer is just getting ripped off.

Right now, you are all mad. You go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell "I'M AS MAD AS HELL AND I'm NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" And this is doing nothing. I want you to protest. I want you to riot. I want you to write to the Big Ten and to Charter and I want you to demand that they take actions to fix things. This is what needs to be done.

My suggestion for Charter: Give us an a la carte subscription service. I have no problem paying to get the BTN because I would watch it. I don’t think I need to pay to get Lifetime, or the Hallmark Channel, or Fox News, or Univision, etc. Sure, some networks that most people don’t want would lose money and fold. That is what is supposed to happen. The first company to offer me this is going to get my business. I can even see providers in the future allowing customers to order single shows. The itunes store has shown that the idea works.

And speaking of selling TV shows over the Internet, my suggestion for the BTN is this: Broadcast your games over the Internet. If the Big Ten just cared about making sure fans could see the game, they could do this for free. But because I know they'd never do that, I'd be willing to pay for a subscription to watch the games online. Major League Baseball has already put in subscription services allowing fans to watch games streamed online. This seems like the ideal solution for the BTN as well. Fans that want the games can get them. Those that don’t want to pay extra don’t have to. And the BTN could cut out Charter and take in the revenue directly.

If the Big Ten Network and Charter continue to hold out, keeping us fans from getting the coverage we want, they will be the ones to ultimately suffer. I could care less if Charter folded up. But the Big Ten Network has potential to help the conference and the fans, so I don't want it to become the first known instance of a conference that was killed because of lousy ratings.


Blogger Erik Opsal said...

What about 40 years ago when there was no such thing as cable? There'd be a few games on a day, now we see tons more, and we could pretty much see every game if we were willing to pay for it (the sports package you mention).

Suck it up and go to a bar. It's not like you can't watch the game -- you just can't watch it from the comfort of your own living room. Get some friends and go watch it somewhere! That's what I did for the Packer game, and the atmosphere at BWW was sweet.

Yes it sucks that we can't watch them on our own TVs, but you can't always get what you want.

6/12/07 21:12  
Blogger Dorshorst said...

Yes, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

Erik, I thought you were the Progressive, the reformer. Are you telling me to just be content with things the way they are?

Yes, I can go to a bar. But what about the farmer out in the middle of nowhere? The blue-collar worker who goes to his small town bar which doesn't have a dish? The small child fighting to stay alive in a hospital cancer ward?

7/12/07 22:26  

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