ESPN GamePlan Overpriced and Over Hyped Has Lost Its Luster To College Football Fans
Conceptually, ESPN GamePlan makes complete sense. More football games. Given displaced alumni all around the country, you would think that just like the NFL Sunday Ticket, a premium package of additional football games would be a great thing.
And for years I've paid the roughly $140 or so knowing that there are few people in the world who have more access to football than myself.
But in terms of value, common sense, and actual usage of the package, it's one of the worst deals on cable and satellite, potentially even worse than renting "Something Borrowed," duped by female company.
The most glaring issue is that the package does not come in HD. (Cue my yuppie jackass persona to bemoan stretched out standard definition games that actually are being shown elsewhere in HD.)
A little known secret is that GamePlan games are usually available in HD by other means, but not through GamePlan. College football fans have been some of the fastest adopters of ESPN3.com, as seemingly the whole portfolio of ESPN network games are available there, and in HD. If you're actually savvy enough to hook it up on your television, you'll really find no difference between the regular broadcast and the Al Gore version.
Then, thanks to various complex relationships between the ACC and SEC having their own syndication networks with the help of ESPN and Raycom, you can almost always find a good chunk of the games advertised as being GamePlan exclusives on random channels you already have.
The general sports tier and even your local channels will very often opt in to showing a tier two or tier three game rather than running paid programming or reruns.
Most of these aired on the sports tier or local channels. Which game here could you have lived without?
ESPN3 is not the only product diluting the "unique" value of GamePlan, though. Last year, ESPN unveiled ESPN Goal-line, their version of the Red Zone Channel, which bounces you around with look-ins to all of the games (in HD of course), giving you all the big plays across a wide spectrum of games. The channel is free for many and is usually found to fill time on ESPN News and in between games on ESPN and ESPN 2.
A lot of cable and satellite companies also have individual game pay-per-view options, meaning you can buy games A La Carte, just in case you're in a pinch and can't commit to the full season.
Given ESPN's broad amount of broadcasting deals with various conferences, there is currently an abundance of programming that can only be found via GamePlan. However, the reality is that soon enough that surplus will evaporate. FX and Fox have their foot in the door, Versus/NBC Sports Network is drooling to add additional college programming, the Pac Ten Network will launch next year, and other upstarts like LHN, BTN, and The Mountain will continue to hoard off a larger portion of their games. The bottom line is that ESPN's market share in broadcasting the vast majority of college games has peaked and will slowly leak out over the next decade or so.
This trend is already underway as GamePlan's weekly schedules over the years have continued to become less attractive to even the biggest diehards.
I feel like a chump for renewing when I never really watch it. The one game I clicked over to watch during a timeout this weekend, I quickly found in HD on another channel. In the end, barring a scheduling anomaly, I've likely paid $140 for less than an hour of entertainment. Oversold and under delivered -- $140 down the drain for an hour of disappointment. At least I don't have to tip.
Going forward, ESPN needs to get real here as they can't keep trotting out a product that is eroding and at a high price point. ESPN Goalline, ESPN 3, and ESPN PPV all make the package irrelevant. Maybe the sports bars will keep paying, but other than that the package is worthless and needs to be either overhauled or re-priced. While we're at it, can we do something about Mark May and Craig James, too?
Give me Steve Tasker any day over that blowhard Dierdorf. Tasker's not flashy, but he IS insightful and actually provides, you know, analysis. Dierdorf states the obvious, and if you have the misfortune of being a fan of a team in the game he's calling, you want to strangle him. "3 turnovers in the first quarter is NOT how <insert your team here> wanted to start this game." Really, Dan? That wasn't in the planning meeting, lulling the opponent into a false sense of security? Thank you, Captain Obvious. Please pour more salt into my gaping wound.
I don't quite share either the distaste for Enberg, who still is better than most of the network people Fox and CBS trot out, or the love for Marv, though I think he's really good, but I think he's better at basketball and hockey than at football. That said, he's a great addition, and I much prefer him to Gus Johnson, since I prefer my lunatics in Friday the 13th. CBS has a lot more depth than Fox at play-by-play, for sure.
I would move Ian Eagle down to #5 and I like the idea of giving the marquee games to the lower teams some weeks
Makes you wonder how great football coverage would be if CBS has ALL the games. Just like everything they cover, CBS knows how to produce a text book stellar. FOX will never be about the quality of the product as much as they prefer cheap glamor. And that's the difference between CBS/NBC and FOX/ESPN.
That aside, how was Fouts a laughing stock on MNF? He was more than competent analyst on MNF and ABC's college broadcast. He should've been elevated to #2 with Gumbel long time ago, but right now it should be he and Eagle.
Simms for a long time was in the top 2, but watching a lot of Jet games, you can definitely see he has lost steps missing plays, correcting his mistakes more than I'd care to notice and old school lecturing and musings. Nantz, solid but unspectacular. They are both fine at what they do, but compared to Michaels and Collinsworth, it is as vanilla a broadcast as you can get.
On the other hand, FOX is just really poor. Like their baseball production, its really a vehicle to promote their programming.
Personally, I think CBS' #2-5 play by play announcers are better than Nantz. Its hard to dislike Jim, but he's just there to me. I'm not a big fan of Phil Simms either.I love the #2 group. Greg Gumbel is a great broadcaster and I never agreed with CBS' decision to switch him back to the studio and put Nantz in the booth. I certainly was glad to see him back in the booth and especially to be paired with Dierdorf, who I think is EXCELLENT. This is my favorite broadcast team by far.
I've always liked Dan Fouts and Eagle isn't bad either. Also, I actually think Gannon is quite good. He teams with Kevin Harlan for Packers preseason games (Harlan's father was once a GB exec) and they do a great job together.
I wish Gumbel/Dierdorf would move to #1 and Harlan and Dan Fouts would be the #2.
Either way, its amazing how much better CBS' lineup compared to FOX. I mean really, even if I got the #5 team of Harlan/Wilcotts, which is a strong team in my opinion, they would be leaps and bounds better than FOX's #2-5 and arguably better than their #1 with Buck/Aikman.