So did you get a chance to watch the Thursday night debut of the 2008 Hurricanes squad? Neither did I.
And the reason? Because I don’t have the right “Internet service provider.” And because I’m not willing to suddenly change my provider in order to placate the powerful sports empire that is ESPN.
The problem was that the UM-Charleston Southern game was only available on ESPN360, the online sports programming site run by ESPN. And ESPN360 can only be seen on your computer if your ISP has a contract with the forces at ESPN. If it’s Verizon or AT&T, you’re okay. But if you get it through a cable company like Comcast or you use an air card from Cingular, you might as well as be in the Australian outback, all alone and looking forlornly at the horizon for some sign of life.
And Canes fans were none too happy about it, judging by some of their comments on the Miami Herald game blog where even if they could get it they were complaining about how it did not have a seamless feed of the game.
When asked about the Canes first game being available only online, Mark Pray, UM assistant athletic director for communications, told FLSportsFan.com that the school had nothing to do with it. He said ESPN has a contract with the Atlantic Coast Conference and it’s their call on where a game will be run.
“It’s not our preference certainly,” said Pray. “They have a contractual agreement with the ACC that allows them to make the decision. I wish it were on ESPN.”
So what was Pray’s suggestion to miffed Canes fans? Make a phone call.
“The first thing I would say is call their Internet service provider and make their Internet service provider aware that they want the service,” said Pray.
This probably won’t be the last time this comes up. ESPN360 is still only available to a small sliver of the market, according to the N.Y. Times, so you can expect at some point the network will either make it easier for everyone to get, OR, they decide to put a high-profile game on the site just to prod those companies that don’t want to cut a deal.
So Canes fans are losers now, but it might be FSU or USF fans down the line. Until something changes it will be like we are all six years old staring at the top shelf in the pantry. We know the cookies are up there, but we just can’t reach them.