WKU Football: The Tops Need a Better TV Deal and Fast — Expanded Thoughts

UPDATE (2:02 p.m. ET):

Since this story posted, geez, 90 minutes ago, it’s gotten a lot of traction on Facebook.

And, let me start by saying GOOD. That’s why we exist. We want the conversation, we want the debate, we want WKU sports talk to never die.

Unfortunately, in this instance, the talk isn’t so much about WKU sports as much as it’s about my feelings about the access to WKU sports, specifically, the $20 it’ll cost me if I want to watch the WKU/EKU game this Saturday.

I understand that I don’t always articulate every thought I have in an article — one of my deep flaws, and one of the things that makes me most insecure about my writing sometimes — and I’m glad we can have a forum, like Facebook, to further flesh stuff out. But, I figured this is a good place to flush a lot of stuff out as opposed to responding to each comment individually. So, in short bullet points, here we go.

  • No, I’m not opposed to paying for a streaming servcie. I have paid for MLB.tv and NHL Game Center Live multiple times so I can watch my favorite teams (I don’t live in any of my markets, it’s kind of unfortunate). My big problem with Flo, or at least how Flo is set up currently, is that I can’t just purchase the WKU/EKU game. I have to buy a whole package that, come 10 p.m. on Saturday, I’ll never think of again. I’ll gladly spend $8 to $10 for the Tops game if I could only pay for that one game — but I cant.
  • Someone asked if I thought it was my “god given right” to have access to free sports. To wit I say — not exactly, but close. Everything is available if you know where to look. Yes, I barely remember a time before the internet and all of the wonders it can do, so I’m used to having essentially any sporting event that I want at my finger tips. I’ll have how many thousands of football games available through ESPN3 this year? It’s something I, and many other sports fans my age, are used to.
  • Further along this point, the same person pointed out that, with a free option of sports streaming, that decreases attendance at the games. And, while it’s a point I largely agree with, the counter option shouldn’t be “either go to the game or spend a dinner for two to see it in your bed.” It’s counterproductive and, if I’m not going to the game anyway, I’ll find another way to bide my time Saturday evening.
  • There’s been a lot of conversation about how it’s a business and the market isn’t there for this game — which is part of the overall problem. If I’m a Louisville fan who lives in San Diego, or a Kentucky fan living in Milwaukee, I’ll be able to see just about every football and basketball game this year. While, yes, WKU isn’t on the UK or UofL level, they desperately want to be, and part of that goes to catering to the out-of-market fan (something I point at in the original article).
  • Finally, to the person who said “Just pay for the ticket!” That isn’t an option. In June, I moved to Tallahassee, Florida and can’t just get to BG for a game whenever I want. Again, alluding to what’s in the original piece and what I touch on above, if WKU wants to become more relevant, they’re going to have to give their out-of-town fans/alumni a reason to think they are relevant other than “That’s my alma mater.”

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts as the day goes on, so stay tuned. Also, if you want in on the conversation, hit me up on Twitter at @TheTowelRackWKU or on our Facebook page.

Original article (12:30 p.m. ET):

If you don’t live in Bowling Green, your only real bet to watch the season opener for WKU — you know, the team who has won consecutive CUSA titles and three straight bowl games — is through something called FloSports, which will cost you either $19.99 a month or $150 for a whole year’s subscription.

If the Tops were a middle of the road program, fine. If they were a baby program, that’d be an acceptable way to watch the game, also.

But they’re neither of those things. They’re the cream of the crop in Conference USA and have proven they can show their games to out-of-market fans through other (and free) platforms, so why can’t they now?

We’ve seen outlets like the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network produce in-house broadcasts not just for the Diddle scoreboard, but also for ESPN3 so fans who weren’t in Bowling Green, or were otherwise engaged, can view easily.

With other CUSA schools adding ESPN3 to their rotation of streaming options, it makes no sense why the Tops don’t as well.

A lot of the issue I, and others I’ve spoken with, have about the FloSports option is it’s just another of a long line of problems WKU Athletics has with catering to out-of-town fans and alumni. As great a job as WKU does in being talked about town in Bowling Green and always seeming relevant, and as good as they’ve done in trying to expand their footprint with fans in the state (look at the Louisville meetups they’ve done each of the last several summers), there’s still a huge presence of non-Kentucky alumni that still need to be catered to, and having games available for $20 a month isn’t cutting it.

All of this stems from a couple of places — 1.) my personal frustration from not being able to view the game without paying $20 (it’s one thing to pay that for a ticket, it’s another to subscribe to a service for three hours) and 2.) not really knowing what benefits, if any, WKU has by partnering with FloSports. Is it cheaper than ESPN3? Do they get a bigger cut of whatever profit sharing is involved with ESPN3 (or a similar service)?

Even if WKU was showing the game through WKUSports.tv, a service they show just about every other home athletic contest through, I could justify spending the $100 a year to get it — I’d be able to watch everything Hilltopeprs in one convenient spot.

All of this is to say it’s frustrating, for me at least, to know that my options to watch the Tops open the Mike Sanford era are so limited and, honestly, I don’t think are monetarily worth it for me. Hopefully it is for you.

What do you think? Am I just a whiny brat complaining that things aren’t the way I’d like them? What ways would you like to see WKU be available for streaming if you don’t live in Bowling Green. Are you going to be purchasing the game on Saturday from Flo? Let us know in a comment below, via Twitter at @TheTowelRackWKU or on our Facebook page.

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