One thing about molding college football into a national product is that it makes ESPN’s job of squeezing the market easier.
Can’t wait to watch my Notre Dame squad take on Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals this Saturday. Or not.
Tuned in to ESPN this morning and on the bottom of the screen appeared a warning that I (as a Verizon Fios customer) may soon not be able to watch the CFB playoffs and other programming, and I should call Verizon. A few minutes later ESPN ran a commercial saying I might not be able to watch the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl and provided a Verizon number for me to call.
I called Verizon. A recorded message essentially tells me that ESPN is spreading misinformation about Verizon customers losing ESPN when the network’s contract with Verizon expires later this month. The recording says Walt Disney-owned ESPN wants to charge Verizon hundreds of millions of dollars more for ESPN. The recording also says Verizon has been negotiating in good faith with Disney.
My take is Disney, which already charges by far the highest affiliate fee of any sports channel—around $8 per month per subscriber—is using the CFB playoffs and bowl games to play hardball.
Hoisted on our own petards.