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Monthly Archives: August 2016

World Cup of Hockey to Air on Cable TV

For the first time in 20 years, there will be a World Cup of Hockey, taking place this year in Toronto, Canada just before the beginning of the NHL season. It’s also the first time since the early 2000s NHL players will be playing on ESPN and its related networks, as the Worldwide Leader in Sports will be airing the tournament in its entirety.

From ESPN, here is the complete TV schedule for the games (all times Eastern):

Preliminary Round (round-robin)

Saturday, Sept. 17

  • Team Europe vs. Team USA, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
  • Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic, 8 p.m., ESPNEWS

Sunday, Sept. 18

  • Team Russia vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m., ESPN
  • Team Finland vs. Team North America, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Monday, Sept. 19

  • Team Czech Republic vs. Team Europe, 3 p.m., ESPN2
  • Team North America vs. Team Russia, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Tuesday, Sept. 20

  • Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m., ESPN
  • Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, Sept. 21

  • Team North America vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m., ESPN
  • Team Canada vs. Team Europe, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Thursday, Sept. 22

  • Team Finland vs. Team Russia, 3 p.m., ESPN
  • Team Czech Republic vs. Team USA, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Semifinals (single elimination)

Saturday, Sept. 24

A1 vs. B2, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Sunday, Sept. 25

B1 vs. A2, 1 p.m., ESPN

Final (best-of-three)

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Final Game 1, 8 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, Sept. 29

Final Game 2, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Saturday, Oct. 1

Final Game 3, 7 p.m., ESPN2 (if necessary)

Enjoy, hockey fans!

 

ESPN Subscriber Fees Highest on Cable TV

Despite suffering a precipitous drop in subscribers over the past three years, ESPN and its family of sports broadcasting networks are doing just fine, and there’s one major reason for that: ESPN charges cable TV providers more to carry the network (and its related channels like ESPN2) than any other cable TV channel, with the price now rising above $7 per subscriber, with an additional $.90 or so for ESPN2 taking it above $8. This is twice as high as it was as little as nine years ago.

More from Awful Announcing:

What do these increases mean?  It’s a profitable, yet dangerous game of chicken for ESPN.  On one hand, it means that they continue to increase their cable and satellite revenue that will see ESPN be almost impossible to catch for the next generation or more.  If we assume FS1 is still around the $1.00 per subscriber per month mark, that means ESPN is ahead in that department by approximately $6.7 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) in revenue.

A million Skip Bayless debate shows can’t overcome that gap.  As ESPN continues to distance itself from the pack in cable fees, it will continue to fortify its position at the top of the industry.

On the other hand, at what point is the breaking point for the consumer who decides that paying over $86 per year is just not worth it to receive ESPN?  We’ve already seen millions decide to cut the cord because of rising cable fees, how many more are to come?  And how will ESPN look to reach customers who are no longer fueling the company’s revenue stream thanks to their cable bill?

The fact of the matter is that sports fans are willing to shell out money to see what they want to see. DIRECTV has a whole business model built around the fact that people want to get their eyes on the exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package that DIRECTV only offers. As long as ESPN holds the rights to as much college and NFL football as it does, people will want to have the network as part of their cable package.

High-Speed Internet is the Electricity of the 21st Century

Each generation has a technology that changes lives, transforms communities, and connects people across the United States and across the world. In the past, it was electricity. Then, the telephone. Now, it’s high-speed internet, and just like with those previous innovations, people in rural communities throughout the United States are being left behind.

Sherman, Mississippi is one of those towns, where the cost for major high speed internet providers is too great to provide the infrastructure necessary to give every resident and business access. That is, without federal funding.

More from DJournal.com:

The FCC’s 2009 Broadband Task Force reported 70 percent of homework assigned by teachers required some use of the internet.

According to the Pew Report, roughly 69 percent of Americans indicate that not having at-home high-speed internet would be a major disadvantage to finding a job, getting health information or accessing key information, a jump from 56 percent in 2010.

For years, the Public Service Commission has approved funds that are subsidies to phone companies called the Universal Service Fund.

Thus, the need has been recognized, and the funding is there. But more and more communities are having to wait, and being left behind, and that is not a good thing.

Cable TV Providers Losing Subscribers

Subscriber losses reached new heights for cable TV providers in 2016’s second quarter, with the eleven biggest pay-TV providers in the US—which accounts for more than 95 percent of the market—lost a combined 665,000 subcribers. This is the worst quarter for pay-TV subscriber loss, taking the throne from Q2 2015 when 545,000 were lost.

More from Ars Technica:

Losses generally pop up in the second quarter as college students and “snow birds” move. The first quarter is usually much stronger, but it wasn’t that great this year. The biggest providersgained 10,000 video subscribers in Q1 2016, down from gains of 170,000 subscribers in Q1 2015.

With bigger losses and smaller gains, the yearly numbers are dropping. “Over the past year, the top pay-TV providers (including Dish’s [Internet-based] Sling TV) lost about 705,000 subscribers—compared to a loss of about 380,000 over the prior year,” Leichtman said in today’s press release.

Leichtman didn’t name any causes for the decline, but we assume that availability of video on the Internet, big price increases, and poorly rated customer service may contribute to pay-TV losses.

It’s not all bad news for these providers, though, as many “cord cutters” who get rid of cable TV in order to go with a streaming service like Netflix are still customers of these same companies in order to get high speed internet.

Google Fiber High Speed Internet for Tampa On Hold

Last October, Google Fiber announced it would install its high speed internet service in Tampa, FL, with residents and officials excited about the development to provide internet roughly 30 times faster than the national average to the Florida city. Because providing the service is more expensive than initially thought, it is now on hold.

More from the Tampa Bay Times:

“We’re continuing to work with city leaders to explore the possibility of bringing Google Fiber to Tampa,” Google said in a statement emailed to the Tampa Bay Times. “This means deploying the latest technologies in alignment with our product road map, while understanding local considerations, which takes time.”

Tampa is among a handful of U.S. cities being considered for the high-speed service.

Russell Haupert, the city’s chief technology officer, said Google is continuing its engineering review in Tampa and is still in the exploratory phase.

The Journal reported that Google is now hoping to use wireless technology to connect homes, rather than cables.

The search-engine giant’s ultimate decision on whether to provide the ultra-fast service depends on a review of Tampa’s permitting regulations and city and state rules that govern utility providers. Cities are also judged on factors like the ability to use existing infrastructure and the topography of an area.

For now, Tampa and St. Pete area customers will still have all their previous options for high speed internet providers, but at 30 times slower speeds than they might have hoped.

ESPN Remains in the European Soccer Cable TV Arena

ESPN, the Disney-owned cable TV sports broadcasting powerhouse, will maintain its stranglehold over US English-language European soccer viewing with a new deal announced today locking up the rights to all UEFA national team competitions through the 2022 World Cup Qualification process.

Here are the details of the deal, via Awful Announcing:

ESPN and ESPN2: Will televise all 51 matches live (June-July 2020); Additional coverage will include pre-match, halftime and post-match programming, branded news and highlights shows on match days, unlimited re-air rights across all networks and media platforms, magazine programs, and more;

ESPN3: Will offer exclusive content from live events on television and alternate streams to complement big game on linear television. All matches, not including the alternate streams, will be available for replay;

ESPN Audio: English-language broadcast rights to 51 matches;

WatchESPN App: Will stream all matches and ancillary programming;

SportsCenter and ESPN FC: Extensive highlights rights on ESPN signature studio programs, including in-progress highlights;

ESPN.com: Extensive coverage via dedicated UEFA EURO 2020 sections featuring video highlights, news clips, reports, columns, blogging, match previews, player profiles and real-time data. Additionally, the digital sites have the option to create digital-exclusive programming;

ESPN Social: Rights clips and shareable content across ESPN FC handles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, et al.

Fox Sports has the rights to the upcoming World Cups, and NBC Sports holds English Premier League rights, so with this move ESPN is remaining in the game when it comes to the world’s most popular sport, which is growing in interest in the United States as well.

Wisconsin State Government Issues Survey on High Speed Internet in the State

The state of Wisconsin’s Broadband Office released a survey last week to let homeowners and business owners in the Badger state air their grievances about the cost and availability of high speed internet in Wisconsin. The survey will be available until November 23 on the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin website, where there is more information as well.

According to WXPR.org, the survey is a followup to the Broadband Expansion Grant created in 2013 by Governor Scott Walker:

The program was awarded 2.4 million dollars and leveraged 3.9 million dollars in additional private investment.

Communications and Legislative Director for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Elise Nelson says the survey measures consumer views on broadband availability and will map locations where there is demand.

Nelson says the business survey collects the same information along with the kind of business using the internet and how many employees need it.

The PSC held statewide workshops earlier this year on how to apply for the broadband expansion grant. The application period closed June 16 and commissioners are considering 37 applications requesting 3.8 million dollars.

More on this story as it develops at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.

Olympic Specialty Coverage on DIRECTV

If you’re tired of up-close-and-personal profiles and tons and tons of commercials, there’s a way to watch the Olympics the way you want to, on your TV, for soccer and basketball at least. On DIRECTV, NBC Sports has provided two specialty networks available on channels 205-1 and 205-2, with wall-to-wall coverage of soccer and basketball.

These specialty channels are showing every game live, in the men’s basketball tournament, the women’s basketball tournament, the women’s soccer tournament, and the men’s soccer tournament. When live games are not available, the channels show re-airings of previous games, so you can catch up on all the action you missed while away from your TV.

In addition, channel 205 on DIRECTV enables you to watch multiple channels of Olympic action at once, and toggle sound between different events. You can also move from the mix screen directly to a preferred event by using the arrow buttons on your remote to highlight the preferred channel and pressing the OK button to go right to the action.

In addition, you can stream any event live at NBCOlympics.com.

Former ESPN Talking Head Skip Bayless Joins Fox Sports 1

Fox Sports 1, the national cable TV network from Fox created as direct competition for ESPN and its family of networks, has taken another one of ESPN’s biggest names, with former First Take host Skip Bayless joining FS1 for a new show that will air from 10am-noon ET beginning September 6. This time slot puts it right in conflict with Bayless’ former ESPN show, where Max Kellerman has replaced Bayless opposite Stephen A. Smith.

More from the Hollywood Reporter:

Bayless compares his entrée at Fox Sports 1 — which will soon mark three years on the air — to his early days on Cold Pizza, the precursor to First Take.

“So many of my friends told me I was nuts to risk joining a show at that point [in 2004] that had yet to even register in the ratings,” he says. Bayless describes Horowitz, who is credited with ushering in the “embrace debate” era at ESPN, as the “smartest man I’ve ever worked with in television.” He added that when Horowtiz blew up Cold Pizza in favor of First Take, a two-hour live debate program, “a whole lot of people at ESPN told Jamie and told me that this would be a disaster and that we would fail miserably. And we did not.”

So a big reason Bayless defected to Fox Sports 1 is to work with Horowitz again. (He’s only the latest ESPN staffer to leave for Fox; Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock are also there, along with several executives.) In a statement, Horowitz, who is president of Fox Sports National Networks, characterizes Bayless as “one of the most incisive opinionists in all of media. He’s equal parts fearless and relentless, and his rebellious spirit is a tremendous addition to the lineup of talent and shows that we are building for FS1.”

Fox Sports 1 airs on channel 219 on DIRECTV.

USA Men’s Basketball Final Tuneup on Cable TV Tonight + Olympic TV Schedule

NBA TV, available on channel 216 on DIRECTV, will broadcast the final USA Men’s Basketball exhibition game tonight from Houston against Nigeria, beginning at 8pm EDT. After tonight’s game, Team USA will head to Rio to defend its status as consecutive gold medal winners, with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony from the 2012 team returning to lead the way.

Once they arrive in Rio, they’ll begin with the preliminary round against China, who they have already faced twice in exhibitions in the past week or so. The preliminary round games for Team USA in the Olympics will air on NBC Sports Network (channel 220 on DIRECTV, all times EDT):

  • 6: China vs. USA, 6 p.m.
  • 8: USA vs. Venezuela, 6 p.m.
  • 10: Australia vs. USA, 6 p.m.
  • 12: USA vs. Serbia, 6 p.m.
  • 14: USA vs. France, 1:15 p.m.

The biggest challenges for Team USA in the preliminary round are Australia and France; thought neither should be able to beat Team USA, they do feature Olympic and NBA veterans who have faced these players before. In the elimination round, Spain will likely provide the most resistance. Still, despite returning only two players from the last championship team, USA is heavily favored.

Enjoy the games!