From Your Phone or TV? The Thanksgiving Hoops Conundrum

Posted by Adam Butler on November 21st, 2017

It’s 2017 and Little League parents are having Twitter wars with the President. It’s also, perhaps, an inflection point in cord-cutting. For years now we have heard reports of ESPN losing subscribers in droves (although it has seemingly slowed some) while television itself has become a nebulous medium. What is TV if we watch it on our phones, tablets or otherwise? It’s a good question, I admit, but specifically and more immediately draws me to Arizona’s second round (remember, they played an opening round game in Tucson) Battle 4 Atlantis game on Wednesday. It’s the nation’s #2 team playing on a low-work, high-consumption day against a Power 5 school in a high-profile tournament. North Carolina State (the alluded to opponent) doesn’t necessarily project as anything special (12th in preseason ACC voting and 99th currently in KenPom). But the Wolfpack are Arizona’s first real test of the season and it’s going to be broadcast on ESPN3. You cannot watch this game explicitly on your TV. You can stream it through an app and smart TV functionality, watching the game with a slight streaming delay.

Good Luck Catching a Glimpse of DeAndre Ayton on Wednesday (USA Today Images)

Of course, if everyone is delayed eight seconds, is it really a delay? Einstein’s theory of relativity aside, is this game being appropriately broadcast for our evolving consumption? Is it a sign of a national disinterest in college hoops? West Coast hoops? Perhaps I’m overreaching on the latter points but as this game was announced on ESPN3 — online only — many fans were upset. Arizona fans, specifically, felt slighted. More broadly, Pac-12 fans might use this to express continued dissatisfaction with the Pac-12 Networks and Larry Scott’s TV dealings.

Like many things, this is a case left to the beholder. If you’ve been operating with a cut cord, watching DeAndre Ayton and Allonzo Trier take on an ACC opponent will present little disruption to your standard basketball intake. However, if you still have a box, you are faced with a new and likely undesirable experience to watch – again – the nation’s second best team (best, in my humble opinion).

While such an airing may limit ease of access, the power and breadth of ESPN still allows any interested parties to view the game. While a hurdle, it’s a low hurdle. The subsequent issue, however, may be that interest is curbed. As I understand and perceive it, the game will not be promoted on the cable channels, the giant ESPN mouthpiece muted by its own breadth. For me it highlights an ongoing miss by the Mothership to operate as a live sports platform. From its app and its game to its content and its scores, ESPN continues to fall short, although it is improving.

So this Thanksgiving, how and where will you watch your team? Are they on AT&T Sportsnet (formerly Root Sports)? Or have they made it on a national telecast on ESPN? Will they be regionalized by the Pac-12 Network? And will they perform in relative obscurity in #Pac12AfterDark? Will you enjoy from a 45-inch flat screen or a 5.5-inch one? And maybe none of these questions matter as access in and of itself is the answer. There are more games available for consumption than ever before. Device agnostic, that may be something to be thankful for. An apt word considering Feast Week (registered trademark of ESPN?).

Adam Butler (30 Posts)


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