Behind the lines: Pay per phew!

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    You could say it started with Barstool Sports, but it goes a lot further back than those drunken idiots calling a bowl game. In a classic case of both blessing and curse, the modern sports fan is blessed with the ability to watch games on just about any level of competition from high school through professional via digital access. I’ve watched every Fremont County team play football or basketball on flights and from hotel rooms across the world.

    From a fifth floor room at a downtown hotel in London, England I watched the Cougars drop the 1-A nine-man state championship to Big Piney. It didn’t matter that the game in Laramie was seven time zones away it was almost as good as being there. If County10 had the coverage instead of the lower quality NFHS broadcast it would have been even better.


    Prep sports are easy, inexpensive and fun to watch in any venue. The online option that arrived just a few years ago is perfect for the sports junkie.

    What isn’t so perfect was last week’s playoff game between Kansas City and Miami. If you’re an NFL fan, you already know it was the first playoff game offered exclusively on a subscription service. There have been simulcast games in the past by ESPN and Amazon, but they were also broadcast on free, over the air networks.

    The game in KC was available in a 50 mile radius of the stadium and the same was true in Miami, but anyone outside those areas had to buy a subscription to Peacock to watch it.

    It was just another straw in the greed-laden sports broadcasting world as it preys on the fan base of professional and major conference college athletics.


    I didn’t watch the Peacock game though we have a subscription purchased for our granddaughters to use. Along with millions of other fans, I boycotted the broadcast hoping the low viewership numbers would sway the pencil pushing MBAs looking to make a name for themselves to back off the pay-per-view idea for professional football playoffs.

    It didn’t matter. The initial numbers were 8,000,000 paid viewers on Peacock with another almost two million over the air in Missouri, Kansas and Florida.

    The other playoff games this weekend, offered free to the viewing public had in excess of 30,000,000 viewers.


    After some quick media work, Peacock announced the numbers as “slightly lower” than anticipated and blamed a non-competitive game for the lower number of viewers. “Horse pucky” as Col. Sherman Potter would have said on MASH.

    The blowouts in the Cleveland and Dallas games outdrew the Chiefs and Dolphins three to one before the numbers were “massaged” by Peacock to make it look less ridiculous.

    Suffice it to say, pay-per-view playoff football is now a reality.


    It is as a ridiculous reality as trying to follow the Wyoming Cowboys on TV or streaming channels during the regular season. One week they’re on the Longhorn Network, next the Mountain West and then some obscure YouTube channel. They’re on CBS Sports a few games, but then they disappear.

    It’s all part of the plan to milk as much cash out of the fan base as these fly by night networks can generate.

    The blessings of digital coverage of your favorite high school team are blasted by the curse of greed that rules the corporate world.

    When ESPN first arrived I was their biggest fan. You could watch small college basketball, Division II football and collegiate wrestling around the clock with big games featured in prime time.

    I miss Chris Berman, Keith Olberman, Hannah Storm and Michelle Tafoya.  The gals were awesome, but they “aged out” in the Hollywood view of the world and the MBA geniuses at the network didn’t want older, attractive, intelligent women to take center stage when a bubble-headed, 27-year old blond was available. Berman was too big for the network so they let him go and Olberman was politically incorrect, offending the sensitive feelings of the “woke” crowd that ESPN suddenly saw as its fan base.

    I don’t watch ESPN much these days.

    The Olympics don’t hold the charm they once held for many of us either.  As a youngster and then through adulthood I was glued to the set ever four years to watch track and field, boxing, wrestling, weight lifting, judo, basketball and volleyball.

    Now the prime time coverage is wall-to-wall gymnastics, synchronized swimming and women’s beach volleyball.

    Ho hum, where is the high jump? The light heavyweights, the gal from Romania trying to clean and jerk twice her bodyweight? The short answer is, nowhere, not even in the extended coverage you can sometimes purchase.

    If they show track and field, they concentrate on the hair, nails and makeup of the American sprinters, or feature a couple of triple-jump attempts by the gold and silver medalists, that’s about it. The finals get covered at times, but in a strange twist of network logic, they’ll cover the entire two hours plus of the marathon but not the preliminary heats of the 4×400 meter relay, the opening day of the decathlon or the women in the multi-events at all.

    Don’t even try to watch the women throw the shot, discus, javelin or hammer, it’s not there.

    This appeal to a mystical, non-existent audience is strange to me. So was the hari-kari committed by Anheuser Bush last year in marketing Bud-Light to woke alphabetic psychopaths rather than the truck driving, NASCAR crowd that made them a fortune.

    Yes, this is a rant by an old sports fan who just wants to watch a little football at times without worrying about yet another subscription and giving another handout to some clown who has no love or knowledge of the game.

    The NFL has entered a strange realm in response to this societal maelstrom as well. I watched Josh Allen use the ridiculous rules established to protect the quarterback to the utmost on his 52-yard touchdown run against the Steelers on Monday.

    Just fake a slide, even a little bit, and the defenders let up. Josh did a hesitation step, dipped his shoulder like he might slide then took off at full speed, (and he’s fast for a quarterback) outrunning the Pittsburgh secondary for the score.

    Earlier, he slid and even though the safety flew over him without making contact with his hands pulled back in a “no foul” gesture, the defender was flagged for roughing the passer (runner) and Allen picked up a free 15 yards.

    I don’t blame him or the other quarterbacks who abuse the rule. If it’s written that way, why not exploit it? But, it’s not football.

    Neither were the squawking clowns attempting to announce the Wyoming / Toledo game in the Arizona Bowl. I’m sure I’m not the only one who shut the sound off and tried to listen to the Cowboy Network radio broadcast while watching the game, but the broadcasts were off by about 45 seconds form matching each other and it just didn’t play out well.

    A blessing and a curse is what the modern viewer can expect in sports broadcasting. Pick and choose maybe the lost revenue will bring back the great coverage we once had at the national level.


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