Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Comcast Tells Big Ten Network to Shove It

I don't know how, but I got on some Illini email list at one time. Here is what I received today:

Dear Fighting Illini Fans:

With A FEW DAYS remaining before the launch of the Big Ten Network on August 30, I want to update you on the progress of the network's negotiations with Comcast/Insight and the other large cable providers.

We do not want you to miss Fighting Illini games which will be televised on the Big Ten Network, including 5-7 football and 18-21 men's basketball games. Therefore, we feel compelled to alert Comcast/Insight customers that the Big Ten Network will NOT be available on its systems and it is now time to consider finding another cable or satellite provider that has agreed to carry the network.

As of today, the Big Ten Network has national agreements with DIRECTV and AT&T U-Verse and completed deals with nearly 100 cable companies across the Midwest. However, some large cable providers have not yet agreed to make the Big Ten Network available on expanded basic cable.

Conversations in the last few weeks with some of the nation's largest cable providers have been productive. The negotiations with Comcast/Insight are the notable exception to that trend.
You do have options. Visit BigTenNetwork.com and enter your zip code to find a cable or satellite provider in your area that carries the network.

We need your help today. If you don't want to miss any of the action, please take the following steps today and every day leading up to the launch of the network:

Call 1-866-WANT-B10 right now and let Comcast/Insight know that you want the Big Ten Network as part of your basic cable package. Illinois fans shouldn't have to pay extra to see your favorite teams.

Tell a friend. Forward this email to your family, friends and colleagues and ask them to get involved. The cable companies need to hear from Illinois fans today.

Ronald E. Guenther
Director of Athletics

I wonder how they are doing with Charter, the cable network I have. I am also subscribed to a Wisconsin mailing list so I am sure I will be hearing from them eventually.

Pretty sad that they put Ron Guenther up to sending this letter out to everyone. I will be interested to see if they put up my close personal friend, UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez to send everyone a similar letter. God I hope they don't use a form letter and put Barry's name on the bottom. That would really be lame.

The tone of the letter is somewhat puzzling - I like the part that says I have options. Really. Create my own cable network? I am not going to get Direct TV just for the BTN, although I have thought about going to satellite before. If I were to go to a dish, I would probably lean toward Direct TV, just for the BTN but it isn't a backbreaker for me. I am just simply going to do nothing, and be unable to watch those games - I assume Charter will follow Comcast's lead and tell the BTN to shove it too. Hope they are happy that a person IN THE EXACT DEMOGRAPHIC THEY ARE LOOKING TO ATTACK WITH ADVERTISERS will NOT be seeing any ads from anyone on the BTN this whole football season.

As I have said before, the BTN is charging WAAAY too much for a very limited amount of programming - if the Illini are on five times this year that is only 15 hours I will watch. I like the hoops team, but don't really get too interested until later in the year. That is perhaps another 15 hours. Outside of that I would never watch the network, like 99.999% of all people out there.

We will see what happens. The teams with more rabid fans like Michigan, Wisco, OSU and Penn State may not give a damn if their crap games are on the BTN, but may start caring more if their decent games are. Those fans and alumni will really drive the demand, not the Northwestern and Illinois fans and alumni.
I will still try some of my p2p schemes and hope those work out. If nothing else I have a radio stream for the games that I can listen to.

By not lowering their price or offering their games on an "a la carte" tier of these cable systems the BTN is taking a huge black eye in the perception of the fans. They have tried to make the cable providers out to be villains, but the providers have offered very good information to the fans to see how out of line the BTN is. I figured the BTN would stumble out of the gate, but not to this magnitude. They need to fix it FAST or the BTN will be a laughingstock. It is already a joke.

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