I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s “The Herd” on my local ESPNRadio affiliate while I drove to work this morning. Colin was talking about the fact that the vast majority of cable companies are not carrying the NFLNetwork. Apparently the Rutgers bowl game is going to be on the NFLN and that means that most of New York and New Jersey viewers will not get the game. He said that he thinks ESPN (the television network) should be worried about the NFLNetwork penetrating basic cable because it represents more competition for viewers. I completely disagree.
There are two big issues here. The first is that if you are a football fan you are insane if you don’t switch to DirecTV. Trust me. I believed for a long, long time that cable was superior to satellite and that it would be a pain to switch. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was amazingly simple to dump cable and I am so happy that I did. For decades I was trapped with Adelphia, Cox, and Time/Warner cable and tolerated their insultingly bad “customer service” and their completely terrible service in general. This year I finally got disgusted when (a) I realized that the ESPN Gameplan for college football was not offered by Adelphia (Time/Warner) in Los Angeles and (b) my cable internet connection started dropping for days at a time at the beginning of the Fall. I called DirecTV and in three days I had a satellite dish installed (for free), three receivers and remote controls installed (for free), and started paying almost $75/mo LESS than cable for MORE channels and tremendously better service.
The second issues is that ESPN is not wrong when they bill themselves as “the worldwide leader in sports”. I trust ESPN. When I want to find scores or news, I turn to ESPN. When I am channel surfing, I go to ESPN first. If I am sitting at home alone I have SportsCenter in the background. That is not going to change any time soon. I can’t believe that I am atypical in my demographic. If you’re an 18 to 40-yr old male sports fan in America, you are probably just as devoted to ESPN as I am. As much as I loved the tradition of Monday Night Football on ABC with Madden and Michaels, I wasn’t upset in the least when I learned it was moving to ESPN. ESPN being worried about losing viewers to the NFLN would be like turkey farmers being worried about losing Thanksgiving sales to the tofu industry. It’s cute and nice and a few people will give it a try every now and then, but men are not quick to change habits.