FOR THE THIRD TIME in as many weeks, Cougar football will be broadcast on a different TV network and by a new announcing crew. But for those Cougs who don’t have the channel, acrimony is sure to follow. Meanwhile, there’s a different storm brewing altogether at the end of the month for CougFans and subscribers of a particular provider.
Before you press the plastic spork to your wrist, step onto the coffee table and threaten to jump, keep this in mind: These disputes carry with them a whole lot of absurd public posturing, and this provider has been notably bellicose in that regard. There will be a lot of sky-is-falling rhetoric the next few weeks. And it may all end up much ado about nothing.
That said, it is at least possible that CougFans with DISH could go ballistic at month’s end.
As first reported by AdAge, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has said he is willing to go dark on ESPN if DISH can’t strike a deal to their liking with Disney/ABC TV Group when their current deal expires on Sept. 30.
A lot of other providers, including Comcast, DirecTV, TimeWarner and more, are all fervently hoping that DISH draws a line in the sand and that ESPN does indeed go dark on DISH -- and not only for obvious competitive reasons. The industry would love to see DISH establish the precedent of, at the least, slowing down the rate of increase when it comes to ESPN.
Disney’s ESPN far and away charges the highest rate of any network. SNL Kagan estimates providers shell out $5.54 per subscriber for ESPN this year, which the providers of course then pass on to you. And that $5.54 per subscriber does not include ESPN2 ($0.68/month) or ESPNU ($0.18/month).
Five years ago, ESPN charged providers an estimated $3.65 in 2008. That five-year difference ($1.89) represents more than any other network currently charges -- The NFL Network according to Bloomberg is now the second-most-expensive national channel, charging $1.34 per subscriber. TNT charged an estimated $1.25 this year.
So for all of those Cougs who switched to DISH just so they could get the Pac-12 Networks, more drama might yet be foisted upon you this football season. But a golden opportunity also exists.
Get the deal done, at reasonable terms -- and include in that deal that which ensures ESPNU will be offered in HD on DISH as part of it. Failure to do either one of those two things will mean both entities, DISH and ESPN, will be assigned a grade of Epic Fail.
ON THE CALL Saturday for the Cougs-Southern Utah game will be J.B. Long and Jeremy Bloom, as the Pac-12 Networks broadcasts their first WSU game of 2013. (CF.C’s latest projection is that another 4-5 WSU games will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Nets this season.)
Long has mostly done basketball and comes from the Bright House Sports Network. He is a graduate of Notre Dame and a former Tampa Bay Rays sportscaster. Bloom, a Colorado grad who played football and competed in the Olympics in skiing, was a sideline reporter last year for the Pac-12 Networks.
This weekend will see three games on the Pac-12 Networks, last week saw four. More announcing crews are needed now than will be later this year when the P-12Ns have fewer games.
Ted Robinson and Glenn Parker are the network’s No. 1 announcing crew, with Kevin Calabro and Yogi Roth the No. 2 team. Roxy Bernstein and Anthony Herron, and Long and Bloom round out the 2013 crews. Later this year, Bloom figures to possibly join the studio pre- and post-game coverage if he's not in the booth.
The Rod Gilmore Dead Horse Beat
Illinois 45, Cincinnati 17; (ESPN2)
“I’m just saying.. no need to pull (the Cincinnati QB) out after a pick.” • 1st quarter, 1:03
“I still think they made the quarterback switch too early…I don’t think you pull a guy after he throws a pick early in the game.” • 2nd quarter, 6:30
“I thought they took (the QB) out too soon.” • 2nd quarter, 3:33
Later in the game, in reference to putting their offensive struggles behind them on the coming possession, Mr. Gilmore said of Cincinnati; “They’ve got to let it go.”
Physician, heal thyself.
WHEN I SAW Dave Cutaia and the graphic “CFB Rules Expert” flash across ESPN this weekend, I leaned forward in anticipation of the glorious ineptitude that was sure to follow.
But Cutaia, who was synonymous with godawful officiating during his zebra days in the Pac-10, was solid in his TV role on Saturday. He smartly explained a rule, parts of which casual viewers might not have known. He wasn't shy about voicing his disagreement with an officiating call from one of the games, and offered solid reasoning in doing so.
It made me think of Jerry Kramer, the legendary Green Bay Packers guard on Lombardi’s teams in the 1960s. He once wrote about the need to build a “train of hate” during the week for his opponent. And then one game an opposing player, a friend, came up to him right before kickoff and made Kramer laugh, rendering useless that entire week’s work.
Dave Cutaia completely ruined my train of hate this past Saturday. Damn you, Dave Cutaia. Damn you.
OVER ON Fox Sports 1, where the Cougs' upset of USC was shown, the pregame numbers show just how much work the new network has to do to catch ESPN, which also comes on an hour earlier. No one was expecting it to be close this first season but it’s almost as if people are completely unaware the channel exists.
The overnight numbers for College GameDay and FSN-1’s College Football Saturday this past weekend were 1.5 and 0.1, respectively, according to Business Daily.
Official numbers for Week 1 had GameDay averaging 2.1 million viewers from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., while Fox Sports 1 averaged but 107,000 viewers from 10 a.m. to noon.