Friday, February 15, 2008

Putting Fans First the Web Site!!! No Spin, At All, We Swear!!1!!1!

I stumbled across, a website dedicated to fans who paint up, wear cargo shorts and love to jump around in flip flops*. Sounds like your typical fan, right? I know, I couldn't wait to join either. I mean, who doesn't want to put fans first, you know? I sure do. Fans should be first.

But like so many of it's 'org' predecessors, there seems to me something a little misleading about the title 'for the people'. I'm going FJM on this mother (web site quotes in bold):

Putting Fans First is a new coalition of sports superfans and consumers uniting to address the soaring cost of sports programming.

Superfans? I haven't heard that term since high school...which explains why the three guys on the front page of PFF (can I call it that?) are wearing cargo shorts and flip flops. As for consumers, aren't we all consumers, really? You know, capitalism and that whole thing?

Right off the bat I'd like to know exactly who registered and funded this whole operation for "superfans and consumers". A website for everyone isn't for anyone except the people who created it, so lets find out who that is.

Search at told me the domain was registered by "Domain by Proxy". Guess what they do? Assure that (per the web site) "you identity is nobody's business but ours." By "ours" they mean not mine.

That's not suspicious at all, registering a dot org through a lock and key identity protection service. Mean's you probably don't have any hidden agenda or anything.

The new Big Ten Network (BTN) is Exhibit A. Having sold its best games to ABC and ESPN, the Big Ten now wants to charge all of us – fans and consumers alike – hundreds of millions of dollars a year for games that are either “fifth tier,” according to sports columnists....

So we get to the meat of the argument, that fans are going to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for "fifth tier" games. What the fuck is "fifth tier"? Let's google it. Quoted below is the only relevant hit I was able to find; it involves an interview between TV Week and the president of Fox Cable Sports Networks, Bob Thompson:

TVWeek: There are obviously two sides to every argument, but from your point of view, what’s wrong with this sentence: “Sports fans will have to pay $1.10 per person to watch fifth-tier football games and women’s volleyball.”
Mr. Thompson: Well, the $1.10 has been probably the most oft-quoted figure, which is just not true....It’s like the analogy that nobody pays sticker price on a car unless you’re an idiot.
The part of the fifth-tier game, I don’t understand that. I mean I think we never pick fifth, there’s no scenario where we pick fifth. There’s scenarios where we pick second, third, and you know we’ve made the decision to not only pick in those days second or third, but we also take all the rest of the games because these games—there’s no such thing as a fifth-tier game if it’s your school and your team.

Ok PFF, so by "sports columnists" (note: plural) you mean one writer at TVWeek. By "calling it fifth-tier" you mean above mentioned TVWeek writer (note: not sports) exaggerated something he thought Comcast those at PFF would say to let Thompson answer critics. Good work fellas.

[programming] that we used to be able to see for free. In fact, BTN would be the second most expensive national network!

This is where you guys blew it. If you wouldn't have misquoted a TV programming columnist, I would have never found the interview where Thompson calls bullshit on your very claim:
TVWeek: Reports had you demanding $1.10 in the Big Ten states and a dime through the rest of the country. Would that really make it one of the most expensive national channels?
Mr. Thompson: I can tell you this much, it’s significantly less than ESPN. It’s significantly less than a lot of regional sports networks. Especially if you amortize the cost over the entire U.S....All these guys used to carry these exact same games on pay-per-view around the country. These games were all a part of ESPN’s plan. People were paying 20 bucks a pop for them.

So by "used to get for free" you mean used to have to pay $20 a game on pay-per-view for. I actually remember games on ESPN+ being pay-per-view regionally so this is not bullshit.

As for the "second most expensive national network", I don't feel like going into it but lets just say, based on reading the interview above and other sources, that simply isn't true.

Leading cable companies reportedly want to carry the network in a way that lets sports fans pay for it without imposing the costs on all consumers.

Again, if you are going to lie you have to be consistent. You told me this site was for both superfans and consumers, now you are saying us "sports fans" can pay for it without imposing the costs on all consumers. Well, and I'm no Greenspan, but isn't imposing the cost on all consumers good for me? If I eat more mozzarella sticks than anyone else at the table, but we split the price of the mozzarella sticks evenly onto everyone's bill, how is that not good for me, the "Super-Mozzarella-Sticks-Fan"?

Whether you're a superfan or a budget-conscious consumer, this is a bad idea. And it may be only the beginning ... so we're united to tell BTN and others to give us the games and not the hustle.

While your "give us the games and not the hustle" thing is cute, until someone tells me what is wrong with my mozzarella stick analogy I'm going to stick to calling you bullshit.

* Update: Between the time I started this bit and the time I published it, PFF has decided to replace their signature picture, one of three guys painted up and jumping around in flip-flops, with a tamer but equally stupid picture of a kid holding a basketball and sporting yellow shoelaces. I assure you the original photo was much more fun, but you'll have to take my word for it.


Nick said...

PuttingFansFirst is Comcast's clever idea if I recall correctly. I believe they spammed message boards last summer to push their propaganda against the BTN

Nick said...

PuttingFansFirst is Comcast's clever idea if I recall correctly. I believe they spammed message boards last summer to push their propaganda against the BTN