It's that time of year. Time to start thinking about whether or not I need to change my TV package to maximize college football coverage. It's a serious problem and there's a lot to think about. Our household is a Dish Network house because of the simple phrase "regional coverage". It started several years ago when we had cable (sucks) and every Saturday was a dilemma about whether or not our local cable provider would put a televised Nebraska game on. Even though you'd call them ahead of time, you didn't know until game time whether or your game would come on. Game time would roll in, the beer would be cold and you'd be all geared up and pray to see Husker Red. If it didn't show up, you'd be high-tailing it to some sports bar and praying that they'd have it.
The final straw came when I expected to get Nebraska - Kansas State and when the game rolled around I was suddenly watching UCLA and wondering what the hell happened. Calling the cable provider I was informed someone somewhere with too much power had decided that there were more people interested in UCLA-Oregon or something like that than there were Nebraska fans. One week later I was on the roof installing the dish and I haven't looked back since.
Now there's plenty of channels but not necessarily plenty of coverage. There is the the upcoming Big Ten Network that looks like it's trying to get off the ground this fall. Then there's a deal that's been done that's including VERSUS showing Big 12 games. Then because no conference shall be left behind, you have the SEC Network and the Big 12 Network in the works.
No doubt many college football fans are looking at this and thinking there will be more coverage for their favorite team. Ha. Ha Ha Ha Ha!! Nothing could be further from the truth - you of wishful thinking - more coverage will result in less football being available to you. Don't think for a minute that these networks won't come off the ground - never under estimate the stupidity of a group of athletic directors, most of whose departments are being subsidized. They know what to do - they'll put some of the bigger games on ABC and ESPN and then when they're starting to get entrenched, they'll move a couple games that you want to watch onto their network so you don't have a choice any more. The bastards! You know that's what's coming, right, so you might as well plan ahead.
Sooner or later, the conference networks will be there. More networks mean that people like DirecTV and Dish Network, and the cable companies will have to pay more fees, and therefore charge you more for access. Dish Network's package that includes all of the channels I want - ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, CSTV, FSN and now VERSUS is the "Top 250" which starts at $52.99 per month. You also want to get all of the FSN regional stations, not just the one in your area, so you have to add another $7 on for the 'multi-sports' package. Then you add on $5.99 for a DVR fee, and then your fee for multiple receivers and fees for being human and then you got taxes and more fees, and you're around $90 per month. That's before the existence of these conference networks who are so sure you need and want them and I have no doubt that they're going to drive the costs up even further.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? Just get the "Top 250" package and go on with my life, but NO! See, the problem with getting the Top 250 is that it brings at least four Disney channels, about six or eight Discovery channels, the Home & Garden channel, Animal Planet, shopping channels and all that other stuff that doesn't interest me but does interest the other people who are living in my house. By increasing my coverage, I've also increased the possibility that when an off-night game rolls around I won't get to see it because I have to "share" the TV with them. We're a family - in order to teach the children to share we have to lead by example and share ourselves. Who came up with this mamby-pamby crap? Oh. Yeah. We're getting to that.
There are solutions. We could have more TV's and more receivers. That'd be simple, wouldn't it? But that would increase the cost even further. And as the costs increase, the chances that you'll get what you want decrease for one simple reason:
The Home Budget Committee
Yes, the HBC. Tough as hell. Devious. Unrelenting. Going before the home budget committee for my annual TV package and college football coverage is no easy task. Don't give me this crap that you don't have to deal with this. I know that I'm not alone and all you guys who are still in your late 20's-early 30's living at home, I'll bet your Mom says "No" too, so screw you. And all you single guys don't deal with it because you don't have enough money to worry about it, do you? So don't be laughing so hard. Your time is coming, pup.
The hardest part about it is deciding whether to wait for a weak moment - that the committee might be in a good mood - or forging ahead into battle. Being the stubborn boob that I am most times, I typically forge ahead. It usually ends up with a simple question in the form of "What are you going to give up?" and I know what the HBC is looking for. Beer money. Life isn't fair.
Maybe your house things are different. Maybe you can just fork over the money for the Top Dog A #1 Big Cheese Sports package and watch it simultaneously on 23 TV's, 13 of which have their own DVR's. And then again, maybe you have more debt than anyone knows and you're hoping for an early death so you don't have to deal with it but things never work out that way.
No, life is about a balancing act. Too much TV and everyone else wants in on the action. Too much budget towards one obsession and everyone else expects you to support their obsession too. Sometimes I think I'd be better off living in a cave. With a TV. A big TV. And lots of channels....