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Monday, June 23, 2008

The MZone is dead, so someone's gotta do it.

There's only one man in the Big Ten Network footprint who's upset at the recent BTN-Comcast accord, and you get zero guesses as to his name. You didn't even guess, but you're right: Drew Sharp.

If you have a memory longer than two days you remember the minor scare that the BTN would agree to an eight-month preview only to be shuffled off onto a sports tier afterwards. It turns out said scare was caused by 1) sloppy media members not being careful with their words and 2) the exceptional paranoia of yrs truly. You probably remember every one of the hundred articles from every paper from Minnesota to Pennsylvania being very clear that this was not a possibility, that any move would be to a "broadly distributed" digital sports tier that 80% of Comcast subscribers already get.

Sharp either didn't read a single article on the deal or couldn't figure out what "broadly distributed" meant:

The Big Ten finally agreed to an arrangement ensuring that 94% percent of Comcast’s subscribers within the eight-state Big Ten footprint would get BTN over an expanded basic cable package that, from Comcast’s standpoint, basically amounts to an eight-month “free preview” to the network before Comcast can switch BTN to a special digital sports tier package in those pockets, not including local Big Ten home cities such as like Ann Arbor and East Lansing, where it believes the demand is highest.
This underpins the entirety of what passes for his argument: the Big Ten completely caved and should have done this a year ago. It is completely false. Drew Sharp doesn't even read his own goddamn newspaper:
The BTN and the cable carrier announced a multiyear agreement today that puts programming on expanded basic on Aug. 15 in states with Big Ten schools. After the 2008-09 basketball season ends, Comcast has the option to shift the network to its digital service.

Comcast has about 5 million customers with basic cable and 4 million with digital in Big Ten states.
Sharp's entire column is based on a misunderstanding of the situation that reading 600-word article could have cleared up. He cannot be bothered to even understand the deal before doing his Drew Sharp thing, which is to trash anything that does not win a championship.

And so, the eternal question: why? I'm not asking this in your standard "lolmsm" fashion. I am genuinely puzzled. Every sports fan I've ever come across in this town loathes Sharp. He is inextricably linked with two things: hatred and the Detroit Free Press. Why would the Free Press intentionally antagonize readers that now have a vast multitude of other options? Sharp's a dinosaur from the days when readers had a choice of Paper A or Paper B, the prime numero-uno example of why lazy-ass columnists rage against the internet: it exposes how very much they suck and provides alternative sources of attention.

Every column he writes pisses away more subscriber goodwill and drives consumers to less annoying sources. Even if he gets attention, it's the wrong kind of attention in a hotly competitive media environment.

Update: A Free Press minion has corrected Sharp's error to this...
to the network before Comcast can switch BTN to a digital package, which is more expensive than expanded basis.
...which is a nice try but only makes the column even more transparently nonsensical.