How You Can Stick It To The Man & Legally Get Your March Madness Fix
The person who leaked the NCAA Tournament bracket via Twitter midway through CBS' 2-hour Selection Sunday broadcast is considered a hero, according to various news and social media sources. There would not be all this praise had CBS completed the show as it has in the past - one hour swiftly moving through each bracket without the missed shots (e.g., Charles Barkley awkwardly trying to work with the selection touchscreen board). This frustration with college sports broadcasting contracts comes at a time when society is scrutinizing the ethical viewpoints and practices of those running the college sports world, which adds to the firestorm. One mantra appears to be rising out of the mess - a "stick it to The Man" vibe - and will likely gain additional momentum the next few weeks.
Thanks to a 14-year, $10.8 billion broadcasting agreement signed in 2010, CBS and Turner have the exclusive right to broadcast all 68 teams' NCAA Tournament games across their four television stations. Ridiculous? It depends on whether you have access to TruTV. Unwarranted? No, at least relative to the insane price subscribers pay cable companies for a cable package that includes ESPN and relative to the rest of the NCAA's revenue sources (this contract makes up 85% of the annual revenue). Unstoppable? Maybe. In December, the NCAA, CBS, and Turner started talking about a contract extension that could last eight additional years, taking the deal to 2032.
Sports stations know they have a hold on society. People go crazy for sports. People do crazy things for sports. ESPN is the most expensive network for cable providers. They believe people will continue to pay as much as they are asked to for ESPN because sports are life. In reality, though, television broadcasters may be approaching the brink of how crazy people will act. The Selection Sunday show had its lowest ratings, and millennials are opting for streaming services rather than subscribing to cable services. It reflects not only consumer preferences for the convenience of streaming but also the price preferences that almost parallel itemizing or, rather, customizing to get what you want for the cost. Any kind of long-term technological partnership is risky given how quickly the industry evolves and how quickly consumer preferences shift. If only there was a way that we could support the NCAA product without overpaying the oligopolies or monopolies that partner with the power players for events like March Madness.
What if I told you that you could stick it to The Man and watch every NCAA Tournament game legally? where there is a will, there is a way.
Sling TV, a Dish Network streaming service, is offering for the second year a March Madness package. It is a streaming service akin to Netflix and Hulu Plus that can run through your television, but it streams real-time television broadcasts! This year, Sling TV expanded the package to include TruTV in addition to the other three March Madness stations for $20 per month following a seven-day free trial. That time frame is long enough to cover March Madness in its entirety. Sling TV offers other packages and more stations, of course, but for the immediate need when you do not have a subscriber login or have spent too much money at bars watching college basketball, this is an option that is 100% free of illegal streams and 100% free of cable cords.
In conclusion, there is no need to resort to illegal streaming broadcasts of the NCAA Tournament games. There are affordable, legal options to satisfy your addiction, and you can indulge without giving your soul to the expensive, frustrating cable companies. If the television companies like CBS and Turner want to keep viewership, they need to offer contracts with smaller bundles and shorter terms to cater to the consumer. Otherwise, let's utilize Sling TV or the nearest sports bar!