DirecTV deal is a bad one

Oct 022003
Authors: Thea Domber

Dear NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue,

I know that you have one of the more difficult jobs out there.

It can’t be easy to control a multimillion-dollar enterprise. But I

am begging you – let me watch my favorite team on Sunday!

Sunday is my favorite day of the week due to one thing:

football. I get dressed up in jerseys. I eat nachos and wings and

all that heart-stopping glop. But sir, I have been deceived! How

could the CSU tour not have mentioned that I would be forced to

watch Broncos games and only one other match up every single


It might have been a mitigating factor in which college I

decided to go to, had I known that I’d be locked into watching

local teams only. I’m spoiled back home, where I get two of every

broadcast network – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and so on. It means that on

any given Sunday I can watch four to six different games plus the

night game on ESPN and the Monday night game on ABC. But out here,

I’m forced to wait until the playoffs. Or pray to the Football Gods

that my team makes it to the early game on our Fox station. Or I

can wait for the rare double-header on network TV. Isn’t this

supposed to be the digital age? Shouldn’t I have access to my teams

of choice?

Perhaps the Broncos faithful are rolling their eyes at me now,

but I do not join in their pleasure of watching Denver on the field

every single week minus one bye of every year. I understand that

the home team has to be on TV. I guess I just always think of Super

Bowl XXI when Phil Simms (with the highest completion percentage

ever in a Super Bowl at 88 percent) led the Giants past the Broncos

and Colorado’s favorite son John Elway. Or maybe it’s the spanking

that was Super Bowl XXIV, when San Francisco pounded Denver 55 to

10…just don’t mention the Super Bowl two years ago, when the

Ravens embarrassed my Giants. Please.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. It’s not like I dislike all

the Denver teams. I love the Avalanche and can even love the

Rockies up until about August. I just think that it’s unfair to be

forced into watching the home teams, when I want to watch my teams!

Our second Sunday football game seems to be picked at random, and

last year nine out of the 16 games featured teams with losing

records. Fun times!

In a highly unscientific survey, I found that 78 percent of

students at CSU would prefer a choice in what game was chosen for

the non-Broncos game each Sunday. A more scientific study done by

CNN and Sports Illustrated found that 60 percent of football fans

nationwide were dissatisfied with Sunday game selection. If

networks could change games when a blowout becomes assured, I’d

appreciate it. Why should we be forced to watch the Bengals get

blown out by three touchdowns when there is a Patriots-Colts game

that has a three point difference between the teams? If we could

just get to choose our games, that would be even better!

I decided to do some research, and found out about the

NFL-Direct TV deal, which has led directly to the blackout of games

on network TV. When Fox, CBS and ABC signed the most recent

broadcast rights deal in 1998, they paid $17.6 million to broadcast

the games. But a separate deal with Direct TV limited the number of

games the networks could broadcast. The DirecTV contract included a

clause that lets the networks decide which games to sell to DirecTV

for satellite broadcast. That clause, however, expires in 2005. In

the meantime, since DirecTV makes its subscribers pay to watch the

games, we cable subscribers are left with only two day games each

Sunday while the other games are blacked-out.

With all due respect, what where you thinking when you resigned

your exclusive Sunday NFL ticket package with DirectTV in 2002? The

deal means that only DirecTV subscribers can buy the package.

Perhaps you didn’t know that less than 30 percent of people with

TVs have satellite TV, and of those people, only 65 percent

subscribe to DirecTV. It is also highly prejudicial against people

who live in metropolitan areas. Satellite dishes often don’t

function there because of the need for a clear southwest exposure.

And have you not seen the commercials about how dishes don’t hold

up well against weather? I wonder how the fans in Green Bay or

Chicago feel about this. Perhaps you were clouded by the landmark

$1.1 billion that DirecTV paid for the rights, outbidding the more

logical INDemand pay-per-view service that most cable companies

use. Instead of 80 million people having access to every football

game, only 10.7 million people do.

I tried to contact your office for an official comment, but I

couldn’t get through. I can understand. Maybe the other 79,999,999

people who can’t choose the games they watch have also called you

to complain.

From the Frustrated Female Fan,

Thea Domber

Thea is a senior majoring in technical journalism. She is the

station manager for KCSU.




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