How can I tell if a specific sports game will be broadcast where I live and who can I complain to if it is not?
February 18, 2005 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Sports on satellite dish question… How can I confirm (really really confirm) if a game will be on and who can I complain to if it does not come on

I am a big fan of University of Tennessee football (grew up in Knoxville) and University of North Carolina basketball (went to UNC). For the last several years I have lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have been lucky that for most of the last few years these two sports programs have been good enough and have a large enough national following that many of their games are broadcast here. I absolutely love it when I look at the schedule and see that their games are being carried by ESPN or Fox Sports, since this almost guarantees that the game will be on and that it will not be preempted.

Unfortunately, several of the biggest games of the season get picked up by ABC or CBS and it is fairly common for these games to get preempted locally by Big Ten or MAC games. Understandable, but frustrating. The rise of digital satellite and digital cable means that I now have a chance to see some of these games. I might also have a chance now to see some of their games against lesser foes that are broadcast regionally but get picked up on the paid services like ESPN Gameplan (for college football), ESPN Full Court (for college basketball), or one of the other digital satellite services.

But (and you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) this process has been extremely frustrating over the last few months. I am willing to pay to see these games. I am willing to make a trip to a sports bar. But the powers-that-be seem to not want me to see the games anyway. In the fall Tennessee was playing South Carolina in football (a relatively minor game). It was supposedly being carried by ESPN Gameplan, so I ordered the service (not cheap) after I checked the web site to confirm it was supposed to be broadcast here and tried to confirm with the person at Comcast that the game would be on (they couldn’t care less). Game time rolls around, and it is on the schedule, but the screen is black. An hours worth of calls to Comcast where I hear “they should be showing the game, and I don’t know why they are apparently backing it out for you” yields nothing but frustration.

More recently I tried to see UNC vs. Kentucky and UNC vs. Wake Forest in basketball (both huge games between top-5 teams with national implications) at a sports bar. Both games were on network TV (one CBS and one ABC, I think) and both were preempted locally by Big Ten games. In both cases I called the sports bar to confirm and double-confirm that the games would be on. In both cases I got a ‘yes.’ In both cases I showed up at said bar, and could not get the game. In both cases the manager called the dish provider to find out what was going on since there were a few dozen people in the bar wanting to see the game. In one case the network had no explanation, in another he was told that apparently the local station bought the rights to the Big Ten game doing the pre-empting so the national game got blacked out on the digital service (!!!???). Argh! It didn’t matter that I was in sports bar X because some quick calls confirmed that all the sports bars in town were similarly afflicted.

Well UNC now has 5 regular season games left in what is turning out to be a pretty special season. Unfortunately, I am only sure of seeing one of the games, which is carried by Fox Sports. Two of the games are on a regional provider (Raycom/JP) and I may have no shot at seeing them without traveling south. One game is on ABC, and one on CBS. There should be no technical reasons why I should not be able to find some way to see the games on the national networks, but past experience says I am in trouble.

So…. I am hoping to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of AskMeFi. This seems a classic case of a customer standing on the corner with cash in hand and no one willing to provide the product. Or even worse, the TV companies are making it hard and confusing to find the product. I am also feeling increasingly snake-bitten, and less willing to keep trying.

Is there a foolproof way to confirm if a game will be shown where I live? If it does not get shown for some mysterious reason, is there a good way to make my voice heard and let someone know they are ticking off a customer? Finally, are there any longer-term solutions that anyone knows of? There seems to be a lively Internet swap of TV shows, but I have never seen anything for sporting events.
posted by Tallguy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation
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