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A Conversation with Comcast about the Big 10 Network
In the interest of getting to the bottom of why we can't see the Hoosiers and Boilers each week, we contacted our cable provider, Comcast. Here's the resulting conversation, with Comcast's replies in red:
I've been a Comcast customer in Indiana for many years. I co-author a blog about the Indianapolis Colts. We've been discussing the Big Ten Network debate on our blog for a couple months now.
I understand that the stand-off is as much the Big Ten's doing as it is yours. Probably more so. But the B10 is winning because I will switch my service over to DirectTV before I miss one IU basketball game. I've already been forced to miss the best IU football season in forever. The bball team is about to have a legendary year as well. If you have any thoughts or comments I'd be glad to post them on our blog (we have a good sized readership).
Thanks and good luck,
Comcast has said from
the beginning that we want to make the Big Ten Network (BTN) available to our
customers. Unfortunately Fox, which is negotiating on behalf of the Big Ten,
insists that we make the BTN available on Basic Cable. Because the price of the
network is extremely expensive, we feel a better solution would be to put BTN on
our Sports Tier. That way, BTN would be available to customers who want the
programming but people who don’t like Big Ten sports wouldn’t be burdened with
the exorbitant cost.
Thanks for the response. We'll be printing this conversation as it is of great interest to our readers. Here's some problems I see with what you are saying:
1. The argument that people that don't like Big 10 sports shouldn't have to pay for the network seems a little weak for me. I don't like MTV, but I have to pay for it. ESPN is the single most expensive cable network there is, but you make everyone pay for it (and for ESPN 2, Classic, and News). I would venture that in Indiana, the overwhelming majority of people that watch ESPN would also watch, at least occasionally, the Big 10 Network. It seems to me that if you have ESPN on basic, that the Big 10 would get a big viewership there too.
2. You make an excellent point on the money grab by the Big 10. There is no question that they are trying to soak money out of someone. The real target of their efforts though is cable companies, not consumers. I realize that in the now (thankfully!) competitive world of cable providing, consumers have choices and will angle away from companies that raise prices. Thus Comcast can't really afford to jack up the price of their product. Hence, the Big 10 wants you to pay them, without raising rates. They are going after your profits. Why should the consumer care? If you raise cable rates, people will find other providers.
3. You are correct about other conferences following suit, but the pro leagues are limited in what they can do by federal anti-trust laws; they are already getting attention from Congress over the issue. Slippery slope arguments don't fly with me. It isn't your job to stand up for consumers. It's your job to give people what they want. Consumers can stand up for themselves. Don't be disingenuous with us. This is about money. If you could negotiate a better price with the Big 10 network, all your noble sentiments would go by the board. It's phony and we know it.
4. Please, I'm begging you to stop running the condescending ads on the radio. Any ad that says, "hey people you already get Michigan and OSU on Cable, why do you need IU and Purdue?" is a bad ad. I have to turn off the radio every time they come on, because they guy talks down to people. They are horrible spots, and they are working against your 'cause'.
I really do hope you guys win. I'm not in favor of the Big 10 network as a concept, but I don't really care about your profit margins either. Our readers care about watching the Hoosiers and the Boilers, and we will do whatever it takes to watch them. If you plan on winning this war, you need better arguments. Convince us why it's important that we don't switch. So far, you are coming up short.
I hope for a good reply from you guys on this. We'll be printing this conversation either way. I really do hope you win.
Tip off is just a month away,