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OldRightHander
10-07-2006, 10:02 PM
When I was younger ESPN was good for sports. At least it seemed that way to me back when I didn't have cable and I would watch it at someone else's house. I remember thinking that having all that sports coverage right there all the time would be worth the price of cable. Of course back then most of the major sports were on broadcast channels and ESPN showed a lot of hockey and even some off the beaten path events that weren't shown anywhere else. I couldn't wait to get cable so I could get all of that wonderful sports coverage.

Finally the blessed day arrived. I could afford cable. I remember the day I got it hooked up in my tiny little apartment over in Kentucky. I was glued to my couch for a week before the novelty wore off. It wasn't just sports either. Sure, I spent hours with ESPN, but I watched the History Channel and others as well, logging many an unproductive hour. Finally the obsession subsided and I began to have more of a normal life, but I could get all the highlights and scores I ever wanted.

I guess I should have noticed the changes, but I didn't. I was no longer one of the poor peons who didn't have cable, so I hardly noticed when the Reds moved exclusively to FSN. I had watched them before and I was still watching them, only more times than before. Then one day a friend came over and I had the game on. He said, "I wish I could watch the Reds, but I don't have cable." He spent a lot of time at my house over the next couple years watching games. I didn't give it much thought at the time. I knew my friend didn't make much money, but I had my cable, so his plight seemed distant. After all, I never went through that. I had always been able to watch my teams on tv, even before cable. The Reds in the summer, the Bengals in the winter, and occasionally Monday Night Football if I felt like staying up that late. You could also get quite a few college football and basketball games and even the occasional NBA game, but I never got into that much.

I think I noticed one day that ESPN no longer carried some of those little known sports I used to see on there. No more Aussie rules football or European soccer on ESPN2. They were covering the main sports more often and spending less time on those other things I used to enjoy on there. The thing I didn't notice at the time was that the more coverage the main sports got on ESPN and FSN, the more their coverage declined on regular broadcast tv. But what did I care? I was no longer one of the unfortunate poor who couldn't afford cable. Then my friend's comment came back to me. "I wish I could watch the Reds, but I don't have cable." I was at that moment mad that local sports fans were being forced to subscribe to cable in order to watch their local team.

Over time my anger has subsided somewhat and I have grown to accept the way things are, no matter how wrong it is. After all, they may have baseball, but football is still safe, right? Wrong. Next came the decision to take an established icon of American broadcasting, Monday Night Football, and deny it to anyone not subscribing to cable. This is the NFL, the league that claims to have replaced baseball as the favorite sport of the public, the sport that for years has been a mainstay of fall and winter television viewing. You could always count on the college games on Saturday, the NFL games on Sunday, and the Monday night game if you were so inclined. Anyone with a tv and a decent antenna could have this diversion over the weekend before going back to the grind on Monday. Then we hear of this ESPNU channel and their decision to put the crosstown shootout on there, a channel not even carried in Cincinnati. Then today we had another straw piled on the camel's back. I made a run down past Charleston, WV to deliver some mechanical parts to a coal mine. I made the delivery and drove at a rapid pace all the way home so I could watch the Buckeyes. It wasn't that I was expecting the game to be a nail biter or anything like that, but that's just what Saturday afternoons are for in the fall. For as long as I can remember, I have watched the Bucks on Saturdays, and they have always been on tv. I get home about 5 minutes after the start of the game, take my spot on the couch with the remote in hand and a beverage close by, and put my feet up to watch the game and...wait a minute...where is the game? The last time I checked, I don't live in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, or Southern California, so why are those teams all being shown and not Ohio State? Then I heard on ESPN radio that the game was on some college gameday package and not on regular cable or broadcast tv. I ended up at a local sports bar watching it with a few other Bucks fans I didn't know and it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable afternoon, even if I'm still tasting those onion rings.

Is there a point to this rant? I guess what I would like to know is where will the line be drawn? Are we going to get to a point where broadcast tv will be a thing of the past and everyone will have to subscribe to cable or satellite to receive any programming? Are the powers at be going to continue nibbling away at sports programming until the day comes that you won't even be able to watch a game on basic cable? Are we going to force sports fans to subscribe to extra packages that will cost more money just to watch what we all used to watch over broadcast tv? The cable companies have sports fans over a barrell, but maybe it's our fault. They introduce more channels or packages, and people continue to fork over the money just to be able to continue watching their teams. I just wonder how far it's going to go. My aforementioned friend still doesn't have cable. He's on a limited income and can't afford it. It's bad enough that he can't watch the Reds, his favorite sports team, but will there be a time when I hear him say, "I wish I could watch the Bengals, but I don't have cable."

macro
10-08-2006, 12:04 AM
...I watched the History Channel and others as well, logging many an unproductive hour.

ORH, forgive me for isolating on one quote that has very little to do with your point, but this line reminded me of a comment attributed (accurately or inaccurately, I'm not sure) to John Lennon. The quote is "Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted." If you enjoyed your time kicked back watching the History Channel, it was productive. :)

As for the actual point of your post, I'm not sure where all this ends up. At one time I felt that the NFL (and perhaps MLB and other sports) would end up entirely on premium channels or PPV of some sort. But I don't see the broadcast networks bowing out without a fight.

Yachtzee
10-08-2006, 12:59 AM
There is no good reason why the Buckeyes should not be on regular TV in the State of Ohio, especially when playing an in-state opponent. If I can get Mount Union game on regular TV, they should show the Buckeyes, no matter who the opponent.

I must say though. I finally broke down and purchased Sunday Ticket. I got tired of going to the bar to watch the Bengals instead of the Browns games they show up here. I hated being at the whims of the local affiliates when it came to choosing a "non-Browns" game to show, so I got the Sunday Ticket. Expensive, but worth it. It was so nice watching the Bengals in the comfort of my own home, even if they lost.

HumnHilghtFreel
10-08-2006, 01:08 AM
"I guess what I would like to know is where will the line be drawn? Are we going to get to a point where broadcast tv will be a thing of the past and everyone will have to subscribe to cable or satellite to receive any programming?"

Actually, I've heard yes. And it won't just be for sports. Aparently, Broadcasts are due to be stopped in a few years. The only way then to watch tv would be to have cable and things like portable tv's would be useless.

I forget where I heard this, but one of my teachers at school talked about it last year as well, so I know I'm not the only person to hear rumors about it.

TeamBoone
10-08-2006, 01:14 AM
That was an excellent post, ORH. Beginning next year, isn't all football going to be carried on the NFL channel? What is the NFL channel anyway? I don't get it on my cable network... will it be yet another one that we have to pay extra for?

And sports programming isn't the only thing that's getting out of hand either. Tivo is another beef of mine... and DVR. You can barely even find a VCR in the stores anymore. Not everyone can afford Tivo/DVR... and satellite radio... and digital TV.

We are being nickled and dimed to death. I know I can't afford it all. And think about all the people in our country that live on limited or fixed incomes... a whole lot of them are not only sports fans but just plain old television fans whose programming is now filled with infomercials (even on Saturday afternoon on the the major networks) and shopping networks.

Remember when they used to show movies on latenight? Have you tried to find one after 1 AM lately?

Anyway, I agree with you, but it does not end with just sports. If they don't stop this soon, those with lots of money to throw around will be the only ones watching sports and digital cable, or have the ability to record a show to watch later.

vaticanplum
10-08-2006, 01:25 AM
Excellent points all.

I lived in England for a while. In Britain, you have to pay for a license to have a television and get the five main BBC stations (their equivalent of network TV). At the time it was about 80 pounds, which I'm guessing would be equivalent to over $100 today. And my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think you have to renew it annually.

As an American, this was ludicrous to me. But the difference? Well, first of all, their network TV is much closer to our cable, even if it's only five channels. Over there, you're seeing uncensored HBO shows (Sex and the City, Six Feet Under) on late night television, because they don't see foul language and nudity as the biggest of their fears. But far beyond that, this television fee is essentially another federal tax which goes towards their education (they don't pay for college, FYI) and the arts. Whereas if I pay for cable, the money is going to...ESPN. Fox News. Clear Channel. I'm not entirely sure where it's going, actually, but it sure as heck isn't the American college fund or the art museum.

Caveat Emperor
10-08-2006, 04:07 AM
Excellent points all.

I lived in England for a while. In Britain, you have to pay for a license to have a television and get the five main BBC stations (their equivalent of network TV). At the time it was about 80 pounds, which I'm guessing would be equivalent to over $100 today. And my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think you have to renew it annually.

As an American, this was ludicrous to me. But the difference? Well, first of all, their network TV is much closer to our cable, even if it's only five channels. Over there, you're seeing uncensored HBO shows (Sex and the City, Six Feet Under) on late night television, because they don't see foul language and nudity as the biggest of their fears. But far beyond that, this television fee is essentially another federal tax which goes towards their education (they don't pay for college, FYI) and the arts. Whereas if I pay for cable, the money is going to...ESPN. Fox News. Clear Channel. I'm not entirely sure where it's going, actually, but it sure as heck isn't the American college fund or the art museum.

The other big difference between British television and American television is that, being state run and funded by the license-payers in the UK, the content is required to be more broad-base. Here in America, TV networks put on shows that they think will entice the most viewers and, thus, draw the highest ratings and allow them to charge premium dollars for ad buys. It ends up with the viewer getting a lot of "least common denominator" crap -- stuff that offends nobody and is likely to have broad-base appeal.

Over in England, the BBC isn't allowed to just broadcast shows that are of pop or mass appeal. They're required to offer programming for various niche groups, even if the timeslots aren't always the best. Further, ratings only go so far in determining what shows stay on the air and what shows go away. Every so often, viewers are sampled and asked not only what they watch, but how strongly they enjoy the shows that they're watching. A show that draws small numbers can compensate, and stay on the air for a long time, by having an audiance that is fiercely loyal and always marks down the highest interest numbers for the show.

In some ways it is a system that is good -- a lot of shows that I enjoy either originated in England and were re-made for US TV or are just directly imported from England. But, I think the American system works just as well. There is a lot of variety to be had here as well, if you count the cable programming.

As to ORH's original point -- yeah, the way they determine things sucks. But, I'd submit you have no idea how much it sucks because you actually follow a major program for college football. Any idea how many people are subjected to Ohio State football on a weekly basis in Cincinnati that couldn't give less of a damn about the entire city of Columbus? Believe it or not, there are a lot of other colleges in the state of Ohio that also play that game with the oblong leather ball. At least your school of choice gets paid attention to by ESPN. They actually shut down my university for an entire semester due to Hurricane Katrina, and all ESPN could do was talk about how awful it must be for the players at LSU, some 100 miles away from where the hurricane hit in New Orleans. God bless the SEC, to hell with mid-major football.

And, as bad as people think it is with the game-plan packages and NFL network exlusive games, it is absolutely an amazing time to be a sports fan. You now have the option of watching EVERY SPORTS GAME played, at home, with only a cable or DirecTV setup. There are satellite radios that allow you to be driving in Houston while listening to a baseball game being played out-of-market between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Sure, it costs money, but what did you expect -- the NFL or MLB to just give you this ability for free? They can make a buck with it, and true to the American way of things, they're going to make a buck with it. You can still go with free, but it merely limits your options. Honestly, I'm OK with that -- not to sound cold, but if you can't afford the $40 a month for basic cable, being a sports fan is really the least of your worries.

GAC
10-08-2006, 06:25 AM
ORH, forgive me for isolating on one quote that has very little to do with your point, but this line reminded me of a comment attributed (accurately or inaccurately, I'm not sure) to John Lennon. The quote is "Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted." If you enjoyed your time kicked back watching the History Channel, it was productive. :)

Lennon also said (Beautiful Boy).... "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." ;)

Edskin
10-08-2006, 06:45 AM
To answer a question earlier in the thread---- NO, the NFL is NOT switching over to NFL Network next year. NBC, CBS, ESPN, and Fox are ALL still under long contracts to carry the games. This year, NFLN will carry a few late-season games, and I imagine they will do so again next year. But the games will continue to be on network TV and/or basic cable for years to come.

As for ESPN-- it gets bashed pretty badly thesedays, and sometimes with very good reason. But I still love it. It makes life so much better for a sports fan. I really only enjoy the "major" sports anyway, so the coverage is great for me. Mike and Mike in the morning is an EXCELLENT sports-talk show. Informed, fair, etc.... very, very good.

Yachtzee
10-08-2006, 10:20 AM
And, as bad as people think it is with the game-plan packages and NFL network exlusive games, it is absolutely an amazing time to be a sports fan. You now have the option of watching EVERY SPORTS GAME played, at home, with only a cable or DirecTV setup. There are satellite radios that allow you to be driving in Houston while listening to a baseball game being played out-of-market between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Sure, it costs money, but what did you expect -- the NFL or MLB to just give you this ability for free? They can make a buck with it, and true to the American way of things, they're going to make a buck with it. You can still go with free, but it merely limits your options. Honestly, I'm OK with that -- not to sound cold, but if you can't afford the $40 a month for basic cable, being a sports fan is really the least of your worries.

I would agree with this statement right here. Having moved to NE Ohio at the age of 8 (after having already developed an allegiance to the Reds and Bengals), following your favorite teams was extremely difficult if you didn't live in the home market area. With only 3 VHF channels and 3 or 4 UHF channels, sports coverage rarely went beyond the Browns, Indians, Cavs and Buckeyes.

If I wanted to watch a game, I had to hope that my team might be featured on the NBC Game of the Week, or maybe Monday Night Football or Baseball (remember Monday Night Baseball?). Sometimes I would get lucky with the Bengals and they would be shown on a Sunday afternoon here if the Browns and Steelers were playing at different times. My other option was to join my dad in the car, trying to get the games over a staticky WLW.

Now if I am willing and able to shell out the money, I can have satellite radio and tv, buy the sports packages and watch the teams that I want to follow rather than those chosen buy the network programmers and the local affiliates. Even if I couldn't afford that, you can still get a whole day of college football on ABC on Saturdays, the Game of the Week (for part of the season at least), Sunday AND Monday Night Football, and a variety of other sports programming. It stinks that you can't get the Reds over broadcast TV, but you can still get them on WLW. But then we have more national TV networks now than we did way back when. With NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW all offering full prime-time schedules, there are just fewer local affiliates willing to drop the network during prime-time to show a local baseball game.

Heath
10-08-2006, 12:19 PM
In Dayton, channel 7 showed the OSU game over the LSU-Florida game. Now, to be fair, ESPN had the game on what is called "ESPN Plus" which is the old Raycom Big Ten game of the Week. It was "doubleheader" Raycom Big Ten game of the week since Northwestern/Wisconsin was also on. It was also an SEC/CBS doubleheader weekend. (Boy did they get that one right).

Now, back to "ESPN Plus". ESPN Plus sells the rights to local, over the air, stations to show these games. Another example, especially for you southerners, is same way JeffersonPilot operates.

SandyD
10-08-2006, 12:38 PM
Thing is, if you can't afford $40+ per month for basic cable, you also don't have a lot of entertainment alternatives. Also, our local cable company is taking away channels from basic. Trying to move everyone to digital.

vaticanplum
10-08-2006, 02:26 PM
Honestly, I'm OK with that -- not to sound cold, but if you can't afford the $40 a month for basic cable, being a sports fan is really the least of your worries.

for me personally, it's not just the money (though it is at the moment -- and is it really just 40 bucks? When we had cable in New York it was at least twice that, and that was a few years ago, and we didn't have fancy cable). It's the principle. I'm very stubborn about this. There are only a few things I would watch on cable -- ballgames, maybe some History Channel or whatever. And Project Runway. And the GILMORE GIRLS, WHICH IS NO LONGER ON NETWORK TV. But that's it, I think, unless I got suckered into other worthless crap. So I'm paying money for all of these channels and only watching a few of them. And as someone said above, it's the fact that they keep taking things away from network TV and putting them on cable. $40 a month could be spent on a lot more important things in my mind than 60 channels I'll never watch and four I will.

I know it's my choice and the option is there so I shouldn't complain. But there is a difference, too, between seeing every OSU football game and seeing a small handfull of baseball playoff games -- which I've just learned can be blacked out on radio too so there's literally no way to see or hear them if you don't have cable or XM radio. When I was little, I was given free reign on the TV once a year and once every four years: the playoffs and the Olympics. They're just two things that were always on TV for everyone to enjoy. Now, the former is not; the latter is slowly moving over to cable. These are special events, not part of a team's regular-season schedule.

Heath
10-08-2006, 09:24 PM
Thing is, if you can't afford $40+ per month for basic cable, you also don't have a lot of entertainment alternatives. Also, our local cable company is taking away channels from basic. Trying to move everyone to digital.

And that's why I went the dish route. I know some places don't allow those, but those prices have been pretty stable for now and the digital stuff is "extra" if you want it.

TeamBoone
10-09-2006, 12:24 AM
I have DSL through the phone company.... my phone bill is $75/month. My basic cable (no digital, no Tivo, no premium channels) is $47. Total = $122.

I think that's quite enough. I simply can't afford any more.

Yachtzee
10-09-2006, 09:05 AM
I have DSL through the phone company.... my phone bill is $75/month. My basic cable (no digital, no Tivo, no premium channels) is $47. Total = $122.

I think that's quite enough. I simply can't afford any more.

Your basic cable bill is only $3 less than what I pay for DirectTV + Tivo. Well, excluding Sunday Ticket, which I just picked up. If you don't care whether you can get Sunday Ticket, DishNetwork offers even cheaper packages. I think my sister has a deal that costs $30/mo. If it's possible to get satellite at your home, it might be a way to go. Just keep your eyes open for those deals where they offer you the equipment and the installation for free.

Eric in IL
10-09-2006, 09:59 AM
Just to add some fuel to the fire here. As of 2007 or 2008, the Big 10 ESPN Plus games will be a thing of the past. That is when the "Big 10 Network" launches. A majority of the basketball and football games under the ESPN plus package will move to this new channel.

I know my local affiliate in Champaign,IL which carries the University of Illinois games shown by ESPN Plus was not happy about it- lots of ad revenue lost there. I know the Big 10 Network will be carried by DirecTV. Hopefully it will be part of their basic programming package, but I doubt it. We will probably be forced to pay extra for the sports package that includes ESPNU.

TeamBoone
10-09-2006, 01:26 PM
Your basic cable bill is only $3 less than what I pay for DirectTV + Tivo. Well, excluding Sunday Ticket, which I just picked up. If you don't care whether you can get Sunday Ticket, DishNetwork offers even cheaper packages. I think my sister has a deal that costs $30/mo. If it's possible to get satellite at your home, it might be a way to go. Just keep your eyes open for those deals where they offer you the equipment and the installation for free.


I'm not sure if my subdivision allows satellite or not. I do have other circumstances though as others live in my home. I have two TV (LR and BR), TeamCasey has two (LR and BR), and TeamMorris has three in her basement apartment. Total = 7 TVs.

Can satellite beam into all of them? Plus, I've heard you don't get local programming with satellite, which is a must have for me.

Plus, I'm not interested in Tivo as we all share the VCR recordings.

registerthis
10-09-2006, 03:06 PM
Over there, you're seeing uncensored HBO shows (Sex and the City, Six Feet Under) on late night television, because they don't see foul language and nudity as the biggest of their fears.

The husband of one of my wife's friends, who is from the UK, described it as "boobs and coke." In the UK, they're much more lax about nudity on TV, but they're much more timid when it comes to product placement endorsements. Over here, it's just the opposite. Boobies = bad, but schilling a Coke product on your program? Perfectly OK.

Yachtzee
10-09-2006, 06:17 PM
I'm not sure if my subdivision allows satellite or not. I do have other circumstances though as others live in my home. I have two TV (LR and BR), TeamCasey has two (LR and BR), and TeamMorris has three in her basement apartment. Total = 7 TVs.

Can satellite beam into all of them? Plus, I've heard you don't get local programming with satellite, which is a must have for me.

Plus, I'm not interested in Tivo as we all share the VCR recordings.

Wow. That's a lot of TVs. If you don't have Tivo, you can hook up 4 receivers (4 TVs) to one dish, but I think they charge you something like $5 for each receiver after the 1st. If you want all 7 hooked up, the options are to get a second dish or split the cable from one of the receivers (but then you have to watch the same channel on 2 tvs).

You can get local channels. I think they're $2 extra. Most satellite deals add in that cost, assuming everyone wants their locals. My in-laws, on the other hand, don't really care about the locals, so they get the network feed out of NYC.

TeamBoone
10-09-2006, 11:45 PM
Yeah, it is a lot, but there are 4 people in the house.

I actually have two more (one in the guest room and a very small one in the kitchen); neither is hooked to cable.

And, until I just typed that, I realize that I can get all the local stations on them without cable: Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, Star 64, two or three PBS, and one other that I can't recall at the moment.