It’s been a week of good news for sports fans with Comcast cable. First the cable company and the NFL reached a settlement ending the ridiculous squabble over the NFL Network. Now it’s official that Comcast will add ESPNU to most markets, especially in the South, in time for football season. As an added feature, Comcast will also add access to ESPN360.com which more or less means FREE GAMEPLAN.
I’m glad to see the news, but – honestly – it’s about time. These are basic networks and features that other cable and satellite companies have offered for years. Comcast isn’t doing its subscribers some big favor; they’re playing catch-up to the competition.
ESPNU is important because it’s a key part of ESPN’s $2.25 billion deal with the SEC announced last year (that linked article is a very good summary of what’s going to change). ESPNU is also likely to be the home of several SEC basketball (men’s and women’s) games as well as coverage of “Olympic sports”. Here’s a reminder of how it will break down for football:
- CBS still gets the first pick for the 3:30 slot.
- ESPN and ESPN2 will continue national broadcasts of the #2 and #3 SEC games each week.
- ESPNU will carry at least 13 additional SEC games, and most will be in prime time.
- ESPN will also produce and brand regional broadcasts to take the place of the 12:30 JP games. Word on the DawgVent has these games on Peachtree TV in Atlanta, but they’ll be available on other local stations across the region (just like the JP games were – just check local listings each week). These regional games will also be available as part of the ESPN Gameplan package and also on ESPN360.com.
Got all that? The main point is that there will be a ton of SEC football on TV beginning this fall, and now most major cable and satellite providers will have it all. I only hope that HD feeds are included as well. Since JP/Lincoln Financial went to HD for the regional games last year, a return to standard def broadcasts by ESPN would be a step backwards.
PS…I know I’m asking for some dish evangelism with this post, but my unhealthy attachment to my TivoHD means I’m stuck with cable.