Nick Carroll

Nick Carroll

Disney played a goofy trick on WVU hoop fans on Saturday sending the Big 12’s marquee matchup to ESPN+, a streaming-only service, and for Mountaineer fans in the rural hollers, ESPN+ might as well be in Never Never Land.

Folks that have Frontier as their Internet service provider needed the magic of Tinker Bell to watch the game, as Frontier’s connection speeds make Eeyore look fast.

Let’s not act Dopey about the Internet status in this region, as Frontier recently had to settle a class-action lawsuit in West Virginia for $150 million. Frontier advertised DSL service speeds that did not come close to the actual speeds delivered, which sounds more like Pinocchio than Lightning McQueen.

You don’t need guidance from Jiminy Cricket to find out that Frontier posted $8.6 Billion in revenue in 2018, yet improvements from Romney to Ripley have been minimal. 

Why does Frontier make me Grumpy?

Because we pay ridiculous prices to the Sheriff of Nottingham for inferior services and I’m forced to pull a Jack Sparrow and pirate the game from an alternative source.

According to 247sports, Shane Lyons said Internet quality in West Virginia “was talked about” and that the state is not unique in its concerns, but the hurdle is part of the experience.

Instead of watching Oscar dunk in HD, now the ‘experience’ is watching a beach ball spin endlessly on your computer with the word Buffering burned into the screen. Not exactly a magic carpet ride.

“It’s not just the hollers of West Virginia. It’s other rural areas, I’m sure, throughout the country that have difficulty with broadband and bandwidth,” said Lyons.

Apparently his inbox is stuffed with complaints from Mr. Potato Heads in Idaho clamoring to watch Huggins and the full court press.  

WVU athletic director Shane Lyons ignored the demographics of his constituents signing off on a deal that does not benefit Old Gold and Blue fans. Instead Lyons squawked like Iago and parroted the Big 12’s stance on their broadcast deal with ESPN citing Buzz Lightyear technology.

What Lyons fails to point out is that Oklahoma and Texas are not subject to any ESPN programming manipulations as they the remain committed to the Longhorn Network and Fox Sports Oklahoma as their primary platforms. 

Eight of the conference’s 10 schools will produce and deliver live athletic events on ESPN+ but not the Sooners or the Longhorns.

Starting in 2019, games from Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, in addition to select Big 12 Conference championship events were broadcasted on EPSN+.

In 2020-21, Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech will join the lineup.

So why is WVU hoops banished to some service on Pluto?

A statement from the athletic department stated:

“The decision to partner with ESPN on the ESPN+ digital platform was made in an effort to strategically position the Big 12 for what the future of TV is going to look like.”

So the future of Big 12 television hinges on this streaming service network and the 2 most important sports entities within the conference are excluded?  Do I look like Dumbo?

If this is such a great deal for conference affiliates, explain to me why Oklahoma and Texas were not included. The lack of transparency even makes Ursula cringe.

Those schools will continue to rake in cash off the Longhorn Network while the other eight Big 12 institutions are forced to pimp out their product to ESPN to stay afloat.  Even Cinderella's stepsisters think this setup is unjust. 

It was easier to find Nemo than it was to find someone with a subscription to ESPN+ with fast Internet this past weekend. 

Unfortunately for WVU fans, Alice will continue to be lost in Wonderland trying to figure out why the Big 12 fails to create and monetize a conference network that benefits all member schools. o

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