A reason to be mad about March Madness

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

This, right here, is my sad face.

Naturally, you can’t see it. Had I any idea how to make those cute faces most of you cooler, younger people know how to make with your colons, semicolons and commas, I would have offered it up. But I am neither cool nor young. So instead, you get that sentence.

What’s the cause for the long face, you ask? From Jason McIntyre at my most favorite-est sports blog in the whole, wide world (and who once was evennice enough to grant a budding chap like myself an email interview 5,000 years ago), The Big Lead …

“The NCAA Tournament is the greatest sporting event of the year, which is why there was some shock among sports fans this morning when a CBS press release announced a $3.99 fee to watch games online,” he wrote this morning. “March Madness on Demand was free – and amazing – the last two years, and now CBS was trying to charge fans?”

First and foremost, that link will also provide you with the full news release that was put out there to alert the hounds about such a move, so quit reading this right now and click over there. Secondly, WHAT IN THE NAME OF CHRIS WEBBER IS CBS THINKING?

The caps are added for emotion.

Now, as the website All Things D noted, CBS will stream all of its games for free. And if you happen to use a cable company that has any type of deal with Turner — which, for the record, is about 75 million of you — the action will come to you without a price, too.

But … and boy, is this a but …

You can’t watch anything on a smartphone or tablet unless you pay up, period. There is no way around that. if you plan on streaming a few plays here or there live, it’s not possible unless you pay. And for as many games as CBS might broadcast on its website, Turner still holds the rights to 41 of them, meaning that’s a big chunk of action you will miss if you depend mostly on a mobile device for such things.

As if that’s not enough of an inconvenience, consider the following: As McIntyre so gracefully pointed out, what about work? CBS has been flaunting its numbers on this thing, touting the total number of viewers and ad revenue the network has been able to draw by previously providing this for free. How many of those eyeballs do you think happen to be sitting in front of a computer in an office? Beyond tons. How could you possibly think any of those people are going to cave and buy into this thing? My guess is somewhere between zero and none.

“Remember that, originally, watching NCAA games online came through a costly subscription service, and CBS games weren’t available online in order to protect CBS’ TV ratings,” USA Today’Michael Hiestand noted today“By last year, everything was online at no cost, which was a way to widely introduce an online service that has obvious appeal because the NCAA offers so much weekday action when viewers often don’t have access to TV sets.

“So,” he pointed out smartly, “This might just be the start of a series of price hikes.”

This will all ultimately result in one of two things. 1) Somebody — anybody — floats another release in the next 72 hours saying this was a bad idea and everybody will continue to enjoy their multiple-screen free coverage. Or 2) Hiestand is completely right, and this is only the beginning of a speeding glacier of prices ready to crash down on us all.

Either way, I reaaaaallllly don’t want to have to resort to bootlegged streams for this. March Madness is easily the most entertaining sports event of the year (except for when a World Cup lands every four years, of course). Having to worry about finding a reliable — and watchable — stream is not something we should have to deal with, nor is it something the heads at CBS should force us to do only because they decided they wanted to become a tad too greedy when it comes to this stuff.

Ugh. Yes. This is my sad face.

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