I am not quite sure who is to blame for the Oregon/ASU blackout that was imposed on Oregon, Arizona, Southern California, and New Mexico. I do know that I spent about a half hour on the phone with Dish Network looking for someone to vent my rage against, but when I found out that ESPN/ABC Sports didn't even give them the signal I figured that this was a futile enterprise.
This tends to suggest that the blameworthy ones in this sad affair would be either ESPN/ABC Sports and/or the schools themselves. On ESPN's website they claim there are certain contracts in place involving ticket sales or other issues so that they are powerless to do anything about blacking out certain games. I feel certain that this is complete crap. I'm sure that in negotiating broadcasting contracts with different conferences and schools it is entirely possible to ensure that everyone who wants to can watch the game unless you are engaging in some BS negotiating tactics or by just being cheap.
The question for me is how anyone gains by blacking out a huge football game in three of the biggest markets for the game in the country. ESPN either is losing massive advertising revenue or pissing off their advertisers whose ads are not being seen by anywhere near as many people as would otherwise want to see it. Viewers such as myself are rightfully pissed because we can't watch a huge college football game that has been heavily advertised for the past week with no warning that the game would be blacked out. I would imagine that advertisers are mad too because the demographic that would be watching this game has strong purchasing power and they are not able to sell their products. Plus, ASU and Oregon are losing important exposure for potential recruits and lucrative television revenue in their markets.
So, what the $%@$!!!? I know there are bigger problems in the world, but when I'm kicking back on a Saturday i'm serious about my entertainment and don't like being misled by advertising. I did write a comment to ESPN expressing my displeasure and have to say I love the classy touch on ESPN's comment area that limits you to 500 characters. Nothing says that ESPN cares about their customers as much as making sure you don't tell them too much about what they are doing wrong or actually using their ridiculous budget and broadcasting power to ensure that people actually get the product they advertise. If this were a restaurant or a company making power tools and you just never got the food you paid for or the wrench you purchased never worked would that company stay in business for any length of time? Hell no. Somehow, I have a feeling that ESPN will not have much trouble bouncing back after alienating a significant percentage of their customer-base.
Something definitely needs to be changed within sports broadcasting so that there is more accountability for networks advertising games and then blacking them out without warning. Hey, maybe everyone can just figure out how to make sure that everyone who wants to watch sports events can watch teams that want to be watched so that advertisers who want to pay for air time can do so and networks can make the money that I'm sure they and their shareholders want.