While Luck DeCock, a sports writer/columnist for The News & Observer, continues to beat the drum loudly to get MASN—the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network—onto the basic cable of the Time Warner Cable systems in North Carolina, especially in the Raleigh-Cary-Durham-Chapel Hill area, he should be as concerned about Time Warner Cable Internet allowing access to ESPN3.
My guess is, eventually, the outrage from customers of Time Warner Cable Internet in this area will be much greater than it is for the MASN cable television sports offering. Eventually. Right now, because I’m a NC State football and basketball season ticket subscriber, there’s little concern here about the lack of being able to connect to ESPN3 through my internet provider—Time Warner—to watch NC State’s opening football game, Saturday, Sept 4 at 6:00 p.m., against Western Carolina or any other home football or basketball game for that matter.
But, if and when the new contract with ESPN is signed sealed and delivered by and to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and when part of the contract includes numerous games on ESPN3, especially when the deal includes several Wolfpack away games, that’s when my concern level—and that of most Wolfpack fans in this area—about not being able to watch the away games on the computer screen will increase.
ESPN3, which used to be known as ESPN360, according to the ESPN3 website, “is available at no charge to fans who receive their high-speed internet connection from an ESPN3.com affiliated internet service provider. ESPN3.com is also available to fans that access the internet from U.S. college campuses and U.S. military bases.”
Time Warner Cable Internet is not an ESPN3.com affiliated internet service provider. There are 162 such affiliates; that’s the number shown on a list when trying to access that programming. Time Warner Cable Internet is not in the list, and the sign-in says so: “Your current computer network falls outside of these categories. Here’s how you can get access to ESPN3.com. Please select your internet service provider from the list. If you can't find yours, select "Not Found" at the bottom.”
That’s when the list of 162 provider affiliates appears in a pull-down menu. And, when “Not Found” is selected, ESPN3 tells you: “Switch to an ESPN3.com affiliated internet service provider or to contact your internet service provider and request ESPN3.com.”
If you’re thinking when I thought, don’t waste your time contacting Time Warner Cable Internet. Calls to customer service are routed to sales and technical support, and those who answer your call are among the clueless, wanting to sell you something or to know of the nature of the technical problem. They have no concern whatsoever about being able to get ESPN3 through Time Warner Cable Internet.
You can get through with a different number (see end of this story) to the Office of the President of Time Warner. The nice lady who answered my call knew immediately of my concern once I mentioned ESPN3. “My husband complains to me all the time. We have Time Warner Cable Internet and he wants to see programming on ESPN3. We can’t get it either,” she explained as if that’s life so live with it.
When ESPN360 was thought of, it was a service of Verizon Wireless, available through mobile devices. That was shut down due to lack of subscribers but when it was brought back to life, it seems as if Verizon still owns the basic rights and those other 161 internet providers including AT&T internet negotiated with Verizon and offer ESPN360, now known as ESPN3.
“There’s no way that Time Warner will negotiate with Verizon,” the nice lady in the Office of the President told me. “We’ll make a deal with ESPN but not with Verizon.” Damn stubborn corporate America!
This is where I appeal to the people, though the nice lady said the Office of the President of Time Warner has heard from lots of people who want access to ESPN3 through Time Warner Cable Internet. She said calls from North Carolina include requests for both ESPN3 and MASN. (Luke’s writing must be doing some good.) She said most are concerned about getting ESPN3.
Now, back to the ACC and its contract with ESPN. My guess is that ESPN will dictate the games it carries on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. My guess is that no basketball games involving North Carolina and Duke will be shown on ESPN3. For ratings, for the money, that has to be a pretty good guess. For football, there’s no telling.
Imagine the public relations nightmare for the ACC when ESPN tosses games on ESPN3 and there’s no coverage in most of North Carolina. It’ll probably be hit and miss, but if ESPN would put a handful of games involving UNC and Duke in basketball on ESPN3, there would be a huge uproar probably all the way to the General Assembly. In addition to the Raleigh area, Time Warner has a vast presence in Charlotte and Greensboro.
So, if there anything anyone can do? Maybe, the least of which is to make telephone calls to the Office of the President of Time Warner asking for access to ESPN3 on its cable internet service. And, you might want to call the ACC and encourage the league to persuade ESPN work out something with Time Warner. You may not be concerned with it now, but when your team is relegated to ESPN3 and you don’t have access, you’ll wish you had placed calls to one or the other or both. Of course, you could always change your internet to AT&T which is not a bad idea at all. Here are the numbers to call to voice your concern:
Time Warner: 800-950-2266. (Press 2) Office of President
Atlantic Coast Conference: 336-854-8787
(If you want to read Luke DeCock’s latest poke at Time Warner to include MASN, go to Strasburg interest could benefit fans. If you want to encourage Luke to write about the ESPN3 concern, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)