Take your morning trip to uwmpanthers.com and you’ll find a preview of this weekend’s contests at Portland. You might miss the second story, which lays out the lengthy basketball television deal.
The Milwaukee Panthers women’s basketball team will be seen eight times this season, more than they ever have in previous years. The same can be said for the men’s basketball team, who all in all will play 17 times on local or national television, more than half of the team’s schedule. Should Milwaukee play well enough, that number could jump to 18 with the addition of a Bracketbuster TV game.
Since signing the current television deal with Time Warner, the Panthers have made it to television 12 times each season. Every year in the deal, however, the television station has produced more and more home games. Some of our fans think that televising locally hurts attendance, much like the NFL local blackouts that hit Jacksonville every week. The thing is, we’re not an NFL franchise; we are currently the third basketball option in this city, and we share a station with a more preferred program. Basically, we need to get on TV any chance we get.
The limits that TW32 bring to us (namely the fact that only Time Warner subscribers can see us) mean that we need to get on television as much as possible to catch as many eyes as possible. Our current television deal pays us, whereas we had to pay to produce all the games for WMLW. That deal is largely the reason we are on such a limiting station.
Seeing this news is a big boon for the program; though seven of the games televised by TW32 will be home games, the fact that over half of the schedule can be seen by Panther fans remains a good thing for the program, and we shouldn’t be picky about which games to televise.
Personally, I think we shouldn’t be picky because we should demand wider coverage. The more we’re available, the more we’re seen. The more we’re seen, the better it is for the program. And while TW32 may be a rough package to deal with if you’re not a subscriber, at least there are public places around the city where you can get the game.
Time Warner is highly invested in the success of its sports channel. It wants channel 32 to be as highly watched as possible for obvious reasons, yet the best way to do that, in my eyes, is to expand the reach of the channel. Local channels all over the country extend their feeds to ESPN3, the sports giant’s online channel. Fans with access to ESPN3 can watch thousands of live games a year. Time Warner should be putting their package through to ESPN3; by doing so, they pick up some money from ESPN’s deep pockets while extending the reach of their sports channel beyond their cable service without helping direct competitors.
It makes a whole lot of sense for us, for Time Warner and for ESPN, which can afford to pay for Time Warner’s games. In the Milwaukee market, that means ESPN3 would be able to carry all of Time Warner Sports’ broadcasts of Marquette and Milwaukee athletics.
The addition last week of ESPN to Xbox Live only further extends the possible reach of our games through Time Warner Sports. The TW32 watermark would be able to be broadcast through games seen on ESPN3’s service online and on Xbox Live. Such an agreement could come about in a package, as Microsoft (owner of Xbox) and Time Warner are in talks to allow live events on Xbox Live for Time Warner internet subscribers. The deal could include allowing Time Warner games to be broadcast on ESPN3, bringing the TW32 watermark to people in Milwaukee whose television provider isn’t Time Warner.
After all, isn’t this about extending their brand? The same goes for us. We need to get in front of as many places as possible, and so does Time Warner Sports channel 32. So let’s work together and get it done.
2010-11 Men’s Television Games
Nov. 20 – Northern Iowa – 7 pm – Sports32
Nov. 27 – Marquette – 8 pm – Sports32
Dec. 4 – Cleveland State – 7 pm – Sports32
Dec. 8 – @ Wisconsin – 7:30 pm – Big Ten Network
Dec. 14 – @ DePaul – 8 pm – Sports32
Jan. 3 – Butler – 7 pm – ESPN3.com
Jan. 8 – @ Green Bay – 7 pm – Sports32
Jan. 13 – UIC – 7 pm – Sports32
Jan. 15 – Loyola – 1 pm – Sports32/Horizon League Game of the Week
Jan. 21 – @ Valparaiso – TBA – ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Jan. 23 – @ Butler – 1 pm – Sports32
Jan. 28 – Detroit – TBA – ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Jan. 30 – Wright State – 1 pm – Sports32
Feb. 5 – Green Bay – TBA – TBA
Feb. 10 – @ Loyola – 7 pm – Sports32
Feb. 16 – Valparaiso – 7 pm – Sports32
Feb. 24 – @ Cleveland State – 6 pm – Sports32