Sports: ESPN, DirecTV Leave Syracuse Basketball Fans Hanging

Saturday's game was on schedule, but not on TV


ESPN Full Court Logo

Syracuse grad Bob Costas was somehow able to watch his alma mater play basketball on Saturday — all the way from Sochi, Russia.

The rest of us back here at home weren’t all as lucky.

The #1 ranked Orange narrowly escaped an upset by North Carolina State in a game that was advertised as part of ESPN’s $100-a-season Full Court college basketball package.

The network promised to make the game available to DirecTV subscribers on channel 725 at 3:00 PM ET.

ESPN Full Court Logo

But when tipoff was pushed back four hours to accommodate the NC State travel schedule, the game was dropped entirely from the schedule with no warning or explanation.

As a subscriber to the package (and a long-time Syracuse fan), I spent an hour on the phone with DirecTV trying to find out what channel they had moved the game to.

But no luck.   In fact neither customer service rep I spoke with at DirecTV had any idea what was going on.

This, my friends, is entirely unacceptable.

ESPN 3 MAP

You would think that people who program a network for sports fans would understand the passion viewers have for their particular teams — and the excitement that builds up watching each game.

It’s bad enough that in 2014 they are still delivering sporting events in muddy standard definition — when all the games are being filmed in HD.  But nothing is worse for a sports fan than planning an entire day around seeing your team in action only to end up out of luck at game time.

Like many subscribers, I could care less about 95 percent of the games on the Full Court schedule.

I purchased the package specifically to see a handful of games from one team that were not available on regular broadcast or basic cable stations.

I checked the schedule before the season began and factored in how many — and which — games were on the line up.

Then I made the decision to place my order.

ESPN and DirecTV have an obligation to deliver what they advertise.

Anything less is bait and switch. And both companies should be held accountable.

I reached out to the satellite giant’s media relations office today and surprisingly received no response.

A rep for ESPN sent along the following message by email:

“The game was available on ESPN3 but, unfortunately, there was no PPV channel capacity at the rescheduled time for the game.  Hope this helps.”

No, Michael Humes (Michael.C.Humes@espn.com in case you care to drop him a note) it doesn’t help.

Nobody wants to watch a two hour sporting event on the internet.

And even if we did, your company conveniently made it so DirecTV customers cannot receive ESPN3 — as it is only available to people who get their television programming through select cable companies.

If I could, I would cancel my subscription and take my business elsewhere.

But unfortunately, this is not a free marketplace.

You own the rights to certain programming and have the ability to decide what fans are and are not able to watch.

For now.  Hopefully one day that will change.

In the meantime, perhaps you can be more respectful of the people who keep you in business.

What do you think of the way ESPN and DirecTV handled this?  Leave us a message in the comments below.


Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly