March, oh March. You bring us spring. You bring us warmer temperatures (though not yet). You bring us longer days. And most importantly, you bring us the single greatest four days of the sports year: The NCAA men's basketball tournament's opening two rounds.
Some call it March Madness. Others call it moronic. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, however, you can't deny how the event seems to take up every inch of every television network ever. Or, well, at least CBS, TBS, TNT and something called truTV. It brings fringe fans into the sports world for a couple weeks and it makes gamblers out of the most innocent people you've ever known.
Last year, I wrote about how upsetting it was that the suits who run the whole operation decided to start charging people for access to the games online. This year? Oh, this year, it only gets worse. From Joe Kukkura at Fan IQ ...
"There are new restrictions this year on your ability to watch March Madness online," he wrote earlier today. "The NCAA March Madness Live site is once again streaming all the games — but you can only get the games broadcast on CBS, unless you have a cable TV subscription to log in with. Last year's nice and affordable $3.99 fee for all games is gone — you either prove you have cable, or your online tournament viewing is restricted to just the games carried by CBS. The only action you can see of the games on TNT, TBS, and truTV is a four-hour grace period, after which you can't access those games anymore."
Naturally, he then goes on to offer a few ways how we can abuse the "four-hour grace period" part of the equation. Oddly enough, he follows that up by going after the whole illegal streaming practice right before preaching about how it's OK to "stream the legal way and then cheat," as though cheating is somehow less morally incorrect than stealing. Hey, baseball players: Use performance-enhancing drugs, just be sure to put the needle back as soon as you're done with it!
Anyway, the problem here, of course, is that the Powers That Be are finding ways to make this whole thing even more inconvenient and expensive for us, TV-less, cord-cutting people. As if adding the fee last year wasn't enough, now we have to pretend as though we actually have a cable television package to get access to the full slate of games?! How counterintuitive is that?! Hey, idiots — if we have cable in the first place ... WHY WOULD WE USE THE INTERNET TO WATCH THE STUFF?!
The all-caps trick was for impact.
Drew Prindle at Digital Trends broke down the games by network, and it goes a little like this ...
TruTV will air 13 games, including the First Four, and second and third round games. TNT will air 12 games, including second and third round games. TBS will air 16 games, including those from the second round, third, round and Sweet Sixteen. CBS will air 26 games for free, including the Final Four and the Championship.
He then goes on and gives us tips on how to watch games while at work discretely (side: Can someone, just once, write a story with a different angle when this thing comes around next year? Honestly. I'm begging you). Still, his numbers have value. Think about it: While 26 games will be included in what we pay for the streaming service, a grand total of 41 games will be blacked out to those of us who don't have a cable television package.
One more time. A grand total of 41 games will be blacked out to those of us who don't have a cable television package.
Thus, the following question must be asked: Why in the name of Christian Laettner's 1992 last-second shot against Kentucky would anybody in their right mind pony up the five bucks to use this thing? It's like asking people to pay $3.50 for a jumbo-sized bag of Ruffles and only filling the bag three-quarters of the way.
Wait. That already happens. Yeah, but you get the point.
More annoying? By the time I get done writing this post (and within the time it takes you to get done not-reading it), at least a half-dozen games will already be complete. That drives the price-per-game ratio through the roof when you think about it, which is complete blasphemy. I mean, come on, guys — this is collegiate athletics! Nobody gets paid to actually do this stuff. Why should we have to pay anything just to access the right to have a look at what's going on?
The NCAA and Turner Sports: Ruining the fun in March Madness since 2012.
Hey, at least there's this to help dry my inevitable tears ...