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Thursday, August 23, 2007


Thanks for your coverage on the everlasting standoff between the BTN and Comcast. It seems like the whole thing hinges on placement on basic cable inside the BT footprint. Good to know, but mostly irrelevant to someone like me outside the footprint who already subscribes to the Comcast sports tier. I say mostly, because although it seems that both sides are in agreement that it should be on the sports tier outside the footprint, I have heard no confirmation and fear it may be held up until the overall agreement is signed. Have you heard anything solid from either side regarding the availability of the network outside the footprint? I live in DC and vividly recall a season's worth of Washington Nationals games being lost because of a dispute between Comcast and the Mid Atlantic Sports Network. (Not that you or I care about the Nationals, but it shows a willingness on Comcast's part to play hardball (HA! I kill me.) when it comes to televising local

One other issue -- I saw that the BTN will be regionalizing multiple games played at the same time. It would be the ultimate insult to me if I actually got the BTN and then it showed the PSU game instead of Beloved Michigan. The BTN website tries to assuage fears of this by stating: "Whenever the Big Ten Network is producing more than one game at a time, cable and satellite providers that have agreed to carry the Big Ten Network will be offered the chance to carry the additional games via "overflow" channels." What the hell is an "overflow channel"? And how likely is it that a DC Comcast provider is going to pay to put UM - App State on an "overflow channel"? I'm guessing slim to none.

Conclusion: This blows as much as those This is Big Ten Country ads I saw on the BTN website.

Again, thanks for fighting the good fight.

Jeff Polich
I'm not an expert on the arcane jargon of the TV business, but I'm pretty sure that an overflow channel is one of those channels in the distant reaches of your 1,000 channel selection that is either dormant or full of obscure PPV shows. If we make the (potentially large) assumption that the cable companies and Big Ten Network come to a satisfactory resolution, the good news is that the BTN is offering everything it provides at one price. So the $1.10 (or whatever) the cable company pays covers the BTN, the HD version of the BTN, the video on demand, and the overflow channels. The only reason a company wouldn't provide overflow broadcasts is if they simply couldn't push the bits, something that seems extremely improbable. FWIW, DirectTV has already agreed to carry the overflow.

More BTN, this from a second source that confirms the Comcast-BTN breakdown:

I'm a frequent commenter at mgoblog. I have a little insight into the BTN situation that I've actually been meaning to email to you but forgot until I saw your most recent post on the Fanhouse. The conversation I'm referencing took place 2 weeks ago, so all quotes are paraphrased.

I was home (in Novi) a couple of weekends ago when I happened to run into an old neighbor who has either been involved with or is knowledgeable on (or both) the negotiations between Comcast and BTN. We were catching up and the conversation eventually turned to the BTN, and whether or not I was going to be able to see the games placed on the network where I live (I recently graduated and moved to suburban Philadelphia in New Jersey).

He made several points in the conversation that assured me the BTN people have their heads on straight. Among them were that Comcast is forcing people to have Lifetime, WE, Oxygen, Home Shopping Network, Versus, the Golf Channel, and other Comcast owned sports networks on their basic tier and refusing to carry BTN. He said that he presumes the reason that Comcast isn't willing to carry BTN on basic is because it's going to set a precedent for other conferences and sports leagues to follow in the Big Ten's footsteps. What that will do is eat away at games Comcast shoves on its smaller regionally owned networks. Basically, it's not about the customer, it's about Comcast protecting the rights to carry games (and other content) on networks it owns.
I'm sure you were able to figure out (or were told) most of the information I just described above. He did tell me some things I hadn't heard before. He said, "between you and me, if Comcast was willing to negotiate the $1.10 figure, this thing would be over tomorrow. They have no intent to put our network on basic cable." He reiterated that the $1.10 figure wasn't out of line based on the content they were going to provide, but that the BTN is willing to negotiate. I told him that I hoped the BTN didn't cave because I hate Comcast and everything unholy that it stands for. His response to that was to tell me that the BTN has every intention to take this stalemate into the season. He said most of the larger regional cable providers were waiting to see what kind of deal Comcast was going to get before negotiating their own deals with the BTN. He said that once the standoff goes into the season that Congressmen from every state that is home to a Big Ten university were going to get involved (or possibly going to get involved, I forget) and at that point they figure a deal will get done.

Basically, unless there is a dramatic break through, come week 1 of the football season, nobody is going to get this channel. The BTN is banking on public outrage, getting Congress involved, and then the plan is to take it from there. I don't believe that the network is going to end up anywhere other than basic within the Big Ten footprint. It's pretty clear to me, at least, that the problem here lies with Comcast, and that's not surprising to me in the slightest.


frequent commenter Matt who says his roomates Jeremy and Phil can f themselves
'06 Alum
I don't have much to offer here: this is not good. I emailed the BTN Media Relations guy who I've shot the occasional question to about the BTN after the Silverman interview and he confirmed the grimness as well. I brought up the possibility this was posturing in earlier posts about the breakdown, but why only posture at Comcast and not Time-Warner, etc.? The chances this gets resolved before the season hover near zero.

So, it's contingency plan time. I'll put up a post on alternatives soon. Our bandwidth may be able to salvage this for the afflicted.
With regards to the Diallo Johnson punt return thing, he may be getting a bad rap. I remember he was good for 13-14 yards per return, every return. Just freakishly consistant. Very nice after Woodson's "most exciting two yards in football" returns. I seem to remember some problems with returners catching the ball that season as well, though I don't have any facts on that and whether it was Whitley, Bellamy or one of the Currys. Anyway, my point is that anyone who handles all the punts cleanly and you can count on for 13-14 yards per return is okay. Sort of a Mike Hart of punt returns. We were spoiled by Breaston who was that plus the ability to break one. Johnson probably wasn't going to bust one, but he was always going forward. I'm sure Lloyd liked that about him.

-Andrew Bitner
Andrew might be right here: Diallo Johnson, surprisingly, averaged 10.6 yards a return over the course of his career. This doesn't live up to the numbers put up by Breaston but is about what Julius Curry (10.9) and Marquise Walker (10.8) did. And just about everyone beat the pants of one Charles Woodson and his 8.7. But none of them ever did this:

(Note: looking this up caused me to stumble across a feature on MGoBlue I did not know existed: a prodigious database of player stats that goes back to the 50s. Need to know Roosevelt Smith's career rushing average? No problem! It's 4.5 YPC.)

Dear Unverified Voracity,

"Long time listener (reader), first time caller (emailer)."

I have a quick question/comment on the injury of Alex Mitchell. Do you not think it's possible they move Boren back to RG and let Moose get some snaps in? Or... with all the talk about trying O-lineman at different spots, move Moosman to RG? What's the deal with this guy? He was the most highly recruited C/G of the bunch (Molk,Ciulla,etc.) with equal or more experience than all. Also, I've seen him around and he looks like a beast. Can you share some knowledge?

It appears that the first option at RG without Alex Mitchell is Jeremy Cuilla and, should Cuilla go down, I would bet on Mark Ortmann drawing into the lineup with Schilling (the projected starter at RT) moving inside. One of the things a center has to do is get all the line calls right, so it's not as interchangeable as you might think. Moosman has gotten some meaningful praise -- it wouldn't surprise me to see him draw into the lineup when Kraus graduates -- but Cuilla has a couple years experience on him and has seen substantial playing time when the starters have gotten dinged. He'd probably be all right if pressed into a full-time starting job.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

PSU Fan here...

The overflow channels are just local stations that will buy the feed from BTN and broadcast it. In Philadelphia, usually the WB or old UPN channel would pick up a ESPN Plus feed for the PSU game when we were mired in the mediocrity of 2003 and 2004 and playing teams like Kent State.

I'd imagine that the DC area has a local mid-tier network affiliate that would broadcast the BTN game.