Sports streaming might be the future, but that doesn't mean it can't also suck
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Quick housekeeping note: I've gotten so many mailbag questions over the last two weeks, even when I wasn't asking for them, that I think we ought to do another edition next week. If you have a question you'd like me to answer on Extra Points, please tweet me, leave a comment below, or email me at [email protected].
My old friend and former coworker Alex Kirshner wrote a thought-provoking story over at The Atlantic yesterday. His thesis? Having to watch live sports on streaming devices kinda sucks.
Via his column:
This feels pretty indisputably true right now, especially for college sports fans. A YouTube TV base plan, which I believe is the most comprehensive base streaming package out there, runs $65 bucks a month once promotional pricing wears off. That package includes most of the basics (CBS, FOX, NBC, BTN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, CBS Sports, FS1, ACCN, SEC Network), but that alone isn't enough to watch every home for any major college brand.
The new Big Ten TV deal will put some football and men's basketball games exclusively on Peacock ($4.99/mo). You'll need that to watch every Notre Dame football game too. If you're a fan of an SEC, ACC or Big 12 team, some of your content is going to be on ESPN+ ($9.99/mo). If you're interested in Olympic sports coverage, or FCS competition, there's a good chance you're going to need FloSports ($150 a year or $29.99 a month). I haven't even covered the Pac-12 Network yet.
If you happen to subscribe to another streaming service to watch non-sports stuff, or need to pay for yet another service to watch non-college sports, etc...you can see how this ends up costing more than cable in a hurry, all with (at least for now), typically inferior product.
Kirshner doesn't see this getting better in the immediate future.
Very cool. Love to see that.
Anyway, I'm heading into this football season with a YouTube TV subscription. I've paid for ESPN+ (and more importantly in my family, Disney+), and I'll probably end up getting Peacock once the Big Ten deal kicks in.
If you are a fan of a very niche product...international sport broadcasts, D-II athletics, high school sports, etc...I can see why the streaming era would still feel like a net positive. Your access to a large amount of sports inventory has never been better.
But for everybody else? It's hard to see that many advantages. The immediate trendline seems to be more content that was previously 'free' moving behind streaming paywalls that offer an inferior viewing experience.
I hated my cable company. I hated that I felt like I didn't have much consumer choice. But I have to admit...I don't really feel like my viewing experience has gotten much better.
Unless this whole 'being able to watch four channels at once' thing works out. That'd probably make Saturdays a teensy bit easier.
There's football happening this weekend, and not just at the big FBS level
Over at Going For Two, we've been chatting with experts about the biggest storylines heading into each major conference. We've talked with folks about the Big Ten, Pac-12. SEC (we're getting to the ACC, I promise!), as well as the Group of Five.
The D-I season starts this weekend, with Nebraska and Northwestern's tilt in Ireland as the headlining game. But there's also plenty of FCS action happening too. Sure, some of those games are the early-season FBS-FCS tilts, but you'll be able to watch Howard and Alabama State on ESPN proper on Saturday, among other games.
To help catch you up on the biggest FCS storylines this season, we chatted with Sam Herder of HERO Sports:
This episode discusses what should be a banner season for both Montana and Montana State, the QBs and coaches casual fans should be aware of, just how good Jackson State should be this season, what it means to be an FCS program in 2022, and more. I learned a lot!
Here's what else we've been working on this week:
You might have missed this, but I wrote a detailed explainer on the various forces that could shift college athletics into a more direct Pay-For-Play relationship...and the timelines for each one. I could be wrong about this, but I do not anticipate a formal shift to a direct-employement model in the immediate future, and I explain why here.
I shared a few notes I'm hearing about the NCAA Transformation Committee, particularly that I hear it may soon be impossible to operate as an independent athletic department, like Chicago State is now, or old Big West teams did for a few years a decade ago.
I also shared what I'm hearing about UIndy potentially reclassifying to D-I and joining the OVC.
And finally, I've updated the EA Sports College Football Audio Tracker multiple times. It now includes data from 23 schools, including updates from Utah, Texas Tech, Kansas State, and more.
I'm able to file those FOIAs, make those calls, and write all these newsletters because of your support. If you want to make sure you get every Extra Points newsletter this season, please consider upgrading to a full subscription.
Thanks for reading everybody. I have a few realignment, open records, sports business and sports history stories all in the hopper...can't wait to talk more soon.
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