Pro Sports Cable TV Packages: The End of the One-Team Fan?

Erik Linask : Sports Technology
Erik Linask

Pro Sports Cable TV Packages: The End of the One-Team Fan?

sports on tv.pngI was talking to an old friend the other day, an editor from the newspaper where we both used to work.
She has an 11-year-old son who loves baseball - playing it and watching it - and together they sit in front of the TV to watch both the New York Mets and New York Yankees (though the boy's heart is with the Bronx Bombers).
My friend also is a baseball fan - but she says she doesn't know how someone from this area (Connecticut, about 30 miles north of New York City) can choose between the two baseball teams that represent the Big Apple.
I started to talk about how, for many baseball fans, it's about who your dad likes, which team you saw play in person first and who your favorite superstars are. Right now, I imagine there are a lot of aspiring David Wrights, Jose Reyeses and Derek Jeters on the playground.
But back when I became a baseball fan - in the early 1980s - we also didn't watch sports at home the same way we do now. Most nights, I find myself sitting in front of the TV with the picture-in-picture screens on, TV muted, a third game on the radio and still I'm flipping back to the new, blessed MLB network for live look-ins and updates.
In 1982, you pretty much had to get up and walk over to the TV to turn the channel. That alone could prevent me from watching more than one game these days. On top of that, there was no ESPN "Baseball Tonight," no MLB Extra Innings package, no Internet, no iPhone app with live radio feeds and a GameCast display.
If you didn't watch the game, you could either wait for the last five minutes of the news to find out what happened, or read about it in the paper.
Today, we're learning that for two major sports - or at least one major sport and a sidekick - those comprehensive "see every game" packages are proliferating.
iN DEMAND and SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES, reportedly announced today that they've signed a multi-year agreement to distribute a pair of programming packages to cable subscribers throughout the United States: "NBA League Pass" and "MLS (that's Major League Soccer) Direct Kick."
Clever names, by the way. The NHL's version is called "Center Ice."
Here's what Bryan McGuirk, a senior vice president at SES, said about the new distribution deal: "iN DEMAND and SES AMERICOM-NEW SKIES have consistently delivered some of the best sports and entertainment television to cable and pay-per-view subscribers for years. Together, we're at the top of our distribution game so that viewers from coast to coast can enjoy every action-packed minute on the court and on the field - backed by a proven winner."
Every minute is right. Consider that the NBA package includes more than 1,000 games for the association's 82-game season, and that the soccer package includes more than 100 games.
Don't get me wrong: I love watching sports, and, if my wife and I ever close on this house that I'm starting to hate, I'll have those sports packages installed before we turn the water on.
But a part of me wonders whether my friend's son will be blessedly forced - as those of us who grew up pre-integrated-media were - to pick his favorite teams and stick with them?

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1 Comment

I fail to see the point in being a fan of more than one team. It kind of takes away the thrill of seeing them make it. There's no magic if the team you've been rooting for is just one of a handful that you like.