Friday, March 21, 2008

Skating's fade to black

I have been watching the World Figure Skating Championships from Sweden live on my computer.

On a Turkish TV channel that is part sports, part C-Span, showing the country's parliament when the lawmakers are in session.

From the postings on skating news groups, others have been watching live on Internet streams from a variety of countries, including South Korea, China, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.

All this is free -- except the usurious monthly fees charged by Internet service providers, that is.

This availability of live coverage makes skating fans winners, but it makes the sport they care about a loser.

Why would a TV network want to pay anything but two plugged nickels for exclusive territorial rights to an event where the territorial exclusivity of the telecast is compromised?

That is among the reasons why ESPN threatened to break its four-year contract with the International Skating Union after one year when it learned the 2005 Moscow worlds were being streamed live into the United States. That meant many of the people who might watch ESPN's delayed coverage already had seen the event and felt less compelled to tune in.

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