Friday, October 06, 2006

Quit Complaining about ESPNU

Ok, so we all hate that fact that our game is on ESPNU and very few people have access. But the reality is that in years past this game may not have been broadcast at all. So it is what it is:

Take, as a case study, how this week's Georgia Tech-Maryland game wound up on ESPNU, a fledgling network available on few cable systems across the country.

The ACC has television deals with ABC, ESPN (and by extension ESPN2 and ESPNU) and Lincoln Financial Sports/Raycom. With ABC passing on the ACC this week, ESPN — like ABC, owned by Disney — had the first pick of which conference game to televise Saturday. It opted to show Clemson-Wake Forest at noon. Then the Lincoln Financial/Raycom regional network had the second pick. It opted to show North Carolina-Miami at noon. That left ESPNU with the option of picking any other ACC game (or passing on the league for the week). It chose Georgia Tech-Maryland, opting to schedule the game at 3:30 p.m. so as not to compete with the earlier Clemson-Wake game on ESPN.

If ESPNU had not claimed Tech-Maryland, the game would have been confined to pay-per-view television, if televised at all.

"We often are selecting a game, like this one, that would have fallen through the cracks," said Magnus, the general manager of ESPNU.

"Being on ESPNU is better than not being on," Tech's Gailey said. "It doesn't get in as many households as ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, all of those, but it does get in some."

Now what this article didn't say was that ESPN has a stranglehold on the cable companies with the fees they charge to carry their networks and the cable operators are saying "take a hike" when it comes to ESPNU because they're not going to pay the high fees.