E3 wrapped a mere a week ago which means I’m talking about ancient history in internet time. But with that out of the way I might as well talk about a key announcement I was genuinely interested in only to be brought back to reality at an alarming rate.
Microsoft’s press conference was so-so at very best. With that in mind their ESPN 3 announcement for XBL gold users was a major point from my perspective. I’m a sports head so I could see myself getting plenty of miles out of this app. The key here is “could” as my ISP’s network (Optimum Online) is a subsidiary under…
So what does that have to do with anything? Well it’s as simple as this. Cablevision and ESPN don’t exactly see eye to eye when it comes to bringing ESPN 3 to Cablevision’s customers. Apparently ESPN’s price per customer is too high for Cablevision’s taste so the end user loses out. That’s basically what it boils down to as I don’t have access to the numbers ESPN wants to charge.
It’s disappointing nonetheless as I’d like to watch ESPN 3 on my 360 for the sake of convenience. Additionally, cable and satellite, in my opinion, are increasingly becoming less attractive as the small list of shows I follow are available online for free or for a small monthly fee. Sure the quality doesn’t touch an HD broadcast (most of the time) but Netflix’s HD stream quality doesn’t leave much to complain about. Netflix’s biggest problem is its library but that’s more of a licensing/usual Hollywood politics issue than anything.
But I digress. The key factor that ties so many sports fans to their cable bills is the fact that the internet doesn’t offer many attractive options to stream live events (for free at least.) NBA on TNT and NBC occasionally throws viewers a bone but they’re services don’t match ESPN 3’s versatile array of broadcast sporting events. But what’s the point if I, along with millions of other customers in the metropolitan tri-state area, can’t use it? It’s bad enough that, say, MLB, NBA and NFL fans have to come out of the pockets heavy for MLB.tv, NBA TV and NFL Sunday Ticket respectively. Yes their coverage is more extensive as they provide practically every game: blackouts notwithstanding. But 3’s lineup is good enough if you’re looking for a quick fix on big name match ups. And now that the Fifa tournament is poppin’, ESPN 3’s closed access is another missed opportunity or viewers to watch games, or in this case, translates to more money for Cablevision’s digital cable line.
I’m not one of these naive e-whiners with a false sense of entitlement. Everything costs money and if Cablevision plays nice with ESPN the consumers will probably foot the bill. It’d be lovely if Cablevision shook hands with ESPN and put 3 on their network but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime I’d like to know why there isn’t an relatively inexpensive alternative on top of optimum online’s service that covers things like ESPN 3? If it (unfortunately) came to that or nothing I wouldn’t mind paying an extra $2-3 a month for it if it meant I wouldn’t have to pay for cable (as long as they don’t go crazy w/ compartmentalizing content heavy sites like youtube, hulu etc.) I already get by on the few shows I watch and that premium option could help subsidize ESPN’s hefty price per user. Until that or a similar plan develops I guess Cablevision’s customers are left to do without.