Wednesday, October 10, 2007

BTN: public tide turning against Comcast.

While stopping short of calling them the lying liars they are, Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune does concede:
The problem is Comcast doesn't have all the facts right.
Sherman further notes:
But the most egregious "spin" on Comcast's part is the assertion BTN is offering games ABC/ESPN didn't want. A Comcast Web site,, says columnists call them "fifth-tier games." That simply isn't true. This week, BTN is airing Purdue (5-1) at Michigan (4-2) and Indiana (5-1) at Michigan State (4-2). Does that sound like "fifth-tier games" to you?The fact is after ABC selects first, BTN receives the second or third choice of games during six weeks of the football season. While BTN President Mark Silverman won't disclose the actual selection process, you have to think the network used one of its second picks for Purdue-Michigan. Earlier this year, BTN had Illinois' big victory over Penn State. Certainly, Comcast subscribers in this area would have enjoyed being able to watch that game.And how about this for a game ABC/ESPN "didn't want"—either Wisconsin-Ohio State on Nov. 3 or Illinois-Ohio State on Nov. 10 will be on BTN. The Buckeyes have yet to play a league game on the network, a requirement for all schools. Ohio State's upcoming Big Ten games against Michigan State and Penn State already have been designated for ABC and ESPN or ESPN2, and the season finale Ohio State-Michigan showdown is a lock for ABC. That leaves either the Wisconsin or Illinois games to be aired on BTN.Both those games could have Rose Bowl, not to mention BCS implications. You have to think ABC/ESPN would have some interest in the one that airs on BTN.
Below are the links to the transcripts of a couple of Ann Arbor radio interviews, first of BTN president Mark Silverman and then of Comcast spokesboy Patrick Paterno. JoePa should be grateful. Even if the road rage allegations are true, his Walter Mathou routine still is only the second most embarrassing Paterno performance of the week.
Both are worth a read. Paterno sounds like a guy who has been told by his bosses to sell a line of BS. He's not telling the truth, and he knows it.


Tim said...

Patrick Paterno (Comcast): “Well the programming, you know cable programming, the stations are the stations. Smaller programming, programming costs go up under ala carte, not down. So smaller channels suffer under that model.”

Does he even believe himself? Seriously, his reason customers have G4, HGTV, and the Food Network instead of the BTN is "the stations are the stations." Wow, I mean, I knew Comcast was a bunch or greedy, arrogant SOBs, but wow.

Anyway, I've heard I'll be able to get AT&T cable before basketball starts. If that is true then I'm planning a very enjoyable goodbye to those MFers at Comcast.

Anonymous said...

Sherman ignores the fact that last year, before the BTN, I could watch all the games, for free. Now since the Big Ten decided to get into the TV business, I can’t. That Sherman left that detail out makes me wonder who’s really getting spun - the fans or columnists covering the BTN.

The Big Ten shouldn’t have gotten into the TV business in the first place. Considering that the largest cable operator won’t carry them makes me wonder how thought out this whole network plan really was. Unfortunately, only the fans suffer because they can no longer watch all the games they’re used too. Thanks Big Ten Network

John M said...

I know I'm biased, because as a DirecTV subscriber I didn't have to change a thing about my TV arrangements. Still, for the first time in history, every IU football game will be televised this year. For the first time in at least a decade, IU's exhibition games will be televised. Every football game played in a Big Ten stadium will be available on my TV this year, as will nearly every home basketball game played by a Big Ten team. I think it's a good deal for some and a bad deal for others. And, of course, not all games were available for free last year. While more widespread than the BTN, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are not free.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding, I guess I should have used "at no additional charge" instead of "free," but either way my point remains the same.

Additionally what about the other consequences of the BTN. I did a search and found an article in the Detroit Press, from the 13th, which contends that the BTN is hurting the conference by limiting exposure. Here's an excerpt:

"The diminished television distribution of Big Ten football has cost the conference in the national rankings. You could always count on one or two Big Ten teams filling out the bottom of the Associated Press media and USA Today coaches polls, but there isn't one Big Ten team ranked 20th through 25th in the AP poll.

"How is that possible when you've got a 5-1 Purdue and 5-1 Indiana?

"It's primarily because voters don't have as much access to those games as previously under the conference's old cable arrangement with ESPN. The Big Ten had the exclusive national window noon-3 p.m. Eastern on ESPN or ESPN2. That window is now shared with the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Mid-American Conference has taken over the noon ESPN regional network position that weekly put Michigan or Michigan State on a local non-cable channel.

"That's valuable exposure that the Big Ten willingly -- and foolishly -- sacrificed for the sake of exerting more control over product distribution."

Here the link so you can see the whole article:

This is just another reason why the BTN was not totally thought out. Sacrificing the success of the conference for some extra-revenue doesn't seem like it's in the best interest of the conference.

Anonymous said...

I say, let's blame BTN greed for forcing Comcast's hand by not permitting them to make it an optional programming choice.

For those of us that don't watch a minute of sports and pay taxes to SUBSIDIZE PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS BIG 10 SCHOOLS, and build stadiums and arenas that feed private corporate profits, I say enough is enough!

Where is the return on investment to the taxpayer?

The "privilege" to buy an $8 beer if I can afford to buy the family tickets? Shame shame...

The spin doctors stick to "free-market, intellectual property, and licensing" dogma as if its a 100% private sector business; when the scenario really IS free market and not subsidized by tax dollars, I might agree.

Place the blame squarely where it lies: the professional and college sports business machine, a private industry TAXING citizens, in many different ways.

Rick said...

Why should I have to pay/subsidize for programming I don't care to watch. If you want to watch Big Ten sports, then pay for it yourself.

Anonymous said...

I am not on Comcast, I'm on Mediacom, and I am NOT going to pay extra to watch women's soccer or some other worthless sport.
I used to get all the Illini games free on the local channel.

TEW said...

I don't think the "Public tide is turning against Comcast". I think the public understands that BTN wants to increase EVERY customer’s cable bill by $1.10 a month - whether they watch BTN programming or not.

Sports is a NICHE. Deal with it BTN and allow Comcast and others to offer it as a PAY channel that the super fans can sign up for.

I already, though my taxes, subsidize IU fans and their addiction to sports - I certainly don't want to subsidize it with my cable bill.

Could it be that the BTN would just be embarrassed when only 10% of the populace cares enough to sign up for its product?

Anonymous said...

I could care less about and don't watch college football. So, I have Comcast's point of veiw, I don't want pay for something I'm never going to watch!

not a fan said...

The BTN should hang their heads..where do they get off jumping into the TV business? Guess their profit margin needed more padding! As a consumer I find it reprehensible that they would force me to pay for their servcie when I would never watch a Big 10 game. Let the fans pay if they want it. Not the folks who could care less!

Anonymous said...

Being a lifetime Ann Arbor resident,I bleed Maize and Blue.If silverman is truly a UM grad,I seriously doubt he ever went to a UM Football Game.Thank God our Comcast has CSTV.Rest assured that as he takes our time for granted,the need for his product will diminish.

Anonymous said...

Why should my 87 year old mother pay extra on her cable bill for BTN, when she will never watch it. COMCAST DO NOT CARRY THE BTN!!! Unless it is an option, and the view wants to pay for it. The BTN is way out of control. This is America and we have the right to choose.
A Indiana resident

Denny said...

If I am forced to pay for the BTN then I will still have one option available to me. That option would be to only pay attention to the commercials on the network and then no longer buy the products of those stupid companies that advertise on the BTN.

In my opinion Rupert Murdoch, the Fox corporation and the BTN care much more about gouging the average fan rather than appealing to them!! My interest in Big Ten football has waned significantly so far this season and I am sure I will have even less interest in the basketball season. Thanks a lot BTN for turning away a loyal fan!