Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Unavailable on iPhone

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 9.14.2016


I cut the cord last November. While addicted to sports, it made little sense to pay Comcast $150+ a month so I could watch various college football games and receive NFL RedZone. I began looking into other options. I found Sling TV and a plain, old fashion over the air antenna. This is the football season where I will be a full fledged ‘sports cord cutter’ and this is how it’s going.

Unavailable On iPhone

Sports fans, especially Pac-12 fans, got an unexpected gift last Thursday. Sling TV announced a deal with the Pac-12 Network to get all of the Pac-12 channels which are split up into regions (Mountain, Arizona, Washington, etc). However the victory was short lived as the pop up ‘Unavailable on iPhone’ appeared during Monday Night Football.

pac12The Pac-12 deal is big for a couple reasons. First, the Pac-12 has some pretty darn big media markets including Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Phoenix. Second, DirecTV doesn’t have the Pac-12 Network which means about 25 million people. The cost savings an opportunity to watch your Alma Mater could be enough to chip into that number for Sling TV.

Then Monday happened.

imageEvery now and then I have to travel for business. This trip just so happened to land on the season premiere of Monday Night Football. While bandwidth on the Southwest flight is good enough to get a medium to low quality stream of Sling TV (which I found out a day later by streaming the US Open Cup Final on ESPN), it was shocking to see the ‘Unavailable on iPhone’ when I got off the plane and tried to watch the Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers game on ESPN.

That’s right. I can watch via a Roku on my TV, my laptop or tablet but I cannot watch on an iPhone. That’s some 63 million Americans who, in theory, could not watch Monday Night Football on their phone.

That’s kind of shocking.

Now I did not try the WATCH ESPN app. I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t watch on Sling TV that I totally forgot about the WATCH ESPN app. I was also going to be at my hotel in a matter of minutes and the game was at halftime.

I am sure that there is some contractual or technical reason why I couldn’t watch one of ESPN’s most popular programs on my iPhone but as a user I don’t really care about the reason. Part of the reason for cutting the cord was so I could watch anywhere I wanted to, on any device. How can I watch any TV, tablet or computer but not on the device that is with me 24/7? It’s like the content is available ‘almost anytime on almost any device.’

Sling TV is still winning as far as I am concerned. Two weeks into the college football season and I don’t feel like I am missing any of the action. Not being able to watch Monday Night Football on the device I have with me all of the time is odd but something that I am sure that will be fixed.

The Sunday: The Boom and One Proud Papa

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Saturday was suppose to be a low key day of college football. No top 10 matchups and only a few conference games of interest which meant of course that it would be a wild day which it was. Despite the upsets and close games two moments really took the cake. One involved a veteran announcer and the other a former coach celebrating his child’s success.

75 year old Brent Musburger has been calling football for a long time. He is now announcing the SEC Networks primetime game which meant that this week he was in Gainesville calling the Kentucky at Florida game. During OT he dropped ‘boom goes the dynamite!’ on a touchdown run by Kentucky running back Stanley Williams. Yep, he said it and it was glorious.

Possibly the best moment was one that most people were not aware off until Sunday morning. It was of former UCLA QB and Head Coach Rick Neuheisel, who is now an analyst for the PAC-12 Network, cheering on his son Jerry during the UCLA at Texas game.

Neuheisel Watching Son

http://pac-12.com/videos/rick-neuheisel-watches-son-jerry-lead-ucla-victory

Neuheisel’s son came into the game because of an injury to Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley and helped lead UCLA to a hard fought victory over Texas in Dallas. So this came pretty unexpectedly. You could see Rick Neuheisel trying to balance being a dad and being a coach. In the end, being a dad won out.

Credit to the PAC-12 Network for shooting this and getting it out too. It’s such a great moment and with all of the terrible news this week it’s refreshing to see a proud papa celebrating his son’s success. And as Musburger would say, ‘boom goes the dynamite!’

 

 

 

 

DirecTV, Not For Sports Fans Anymore

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

DirecTV use to claim in it’s advertising that ‘if you’re a sports fan, you gotta get DirecTV’. That may have been the case two years ago but it isn’t now. DirecTV in fact may be the worse place for sports fans.

For a lot of people, it doesn’t get better than DirecTV if you’re a sports fan. They have NFL Sunday Ticket and that alone is worth it. NFL Sunday Ticket mind you is $330 for the ‘Max’ package.  For some, this is worth every penny. For others, that’s a pretty good chunk of change.

Watch ESPN

While DirecTV has NFL Sunday Ticket it doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Network nor does a DirecTV subscription give you access to ESPN3, FoxSportsGo or the Pac-12 Network online. In other words, if you are not sitting in front of the TV connected to your DirecTV receiver you are S.O.L. when it comes to viewing sports.

But wait, they have an app right?

Yes they do and you cannot stream any sports channels outside of your house. In fact you cannot stream any ESPN channel at all. Basically, if you’re a sports fan, the app is a glorified remote control and a pretty dumb one at that. God forbid you go into the next room and try to watch a Mountain West game on your tablet!

DirecTV app

What this comes down to, as usual, is money. DirecTV makes enough to not have to worry about digital stuff or something as ‘niche’ as the Pac-12 Network. They also make enough to not have to worry about giving their customers what they really want, the ability to truly watch what you want wherever you want. Probably all the more reason that they do not run the campaign anymore claiming’ if you’re a sports fan, you gotta get DirecTV.

 

The Shifting Tide

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It may go down as the most amazing end to a College Football game in history and it may also signify the end to SEC dominance. Auburn beat Alabama on the last second of the game in the most improbably way, a missed field goal returned 100 yards for a touchdown. It will probably end Alabama’s chances for a third straight National Title and also end the SEC run of National Championships at seven. It could also mean the rise of the PAC-12.

PAC 12

The SEC has had a lot going for it. It has some of the best coaches in the country, some of the best players and generally speaking the most money. Like all dynasties it has to end sometime. If the beginning of the end is on the horizon its first significant step wasn’t Saturday but when the then PAC-10 hired Larry Scott to be it’s commissioner.

Since his hiring the conference has increased to 12 schools, signed new TV deals with ESPN & FOX (totaling some $3 billion) and created it’s own network.

The network is the key part. It’s 100% owned by the conference unlike the Big Ten Network (51% Big Ten and 49% FOX) or the SEC (wholly owned by ESPN). When you own 100% of the network you take on 100% of the problems but also get 100% of the revenue.

The PAC-12 title game is still in it’s infancy. It is not yet the spectacle that the SEC Title game is. Partially because the location changes every year to the best conference record. That means you don’t know where it is going to be, officially, until the week before. Once the league decides on a place to put the game on the regular basis then the event level status should be raised.

To those who claim the SEC is still better. You’re right but the PAC-12 plays nine conference games a year vs the eight played by the SEC. A point that even Nick Saban has pointed out at this past years SEC Spring Meeting. This creates more meaningful games vs the non conference cupcakes most schools schedule.

The tide is also shifting in the quality of its teams. Three notable SEC schools are home this bowl season (Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas). Call it coaching or injuries or what not but those teams with all of their money and all of their fans are at home this postseason. That’s a shot to the belly for the SEC.

Georgia didn’t live up to expectations and Florida’s collapse has been nothing short of spectacular. While Auburn and Missouri’s turnarounds have been nothing short of amazing the turnarounds at USC, Arizona State, and Washington State are not something to laugh at.

The SEC will not go quietly into the night nor would anyone expect them to. However, the level of play in the PAC-12, the number of NFL prospects in the next three drafts and their TV deal could spell a whole lot of trouble for the folks down south.

 

Simply put, the SEC can not stay on top forever. The country is too big and other conferences have too much going for them.