A letter to Tim Allen, his response

Mr. Allen is the Associate Commissioner of the Big 12, and he seems to be handling media relations on this issue. This is how it's going. Hint: it's not looking good for Jayhawk Expats. I'll keep the thread updated as he responds:

I am a loyal Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan living in Texas. For 10 years now, I have subscribed, via Direct TV, to the ESPN Full Court Hoops package. I recently have learned that only 5 (five?!) Kansas games will be shown via that package this year. I further have been informed that the Big XII office is the reason that all the KU games are not going to be shown. Why in the world are you doing something this stupid? Why are you holding KU basketball hostage? Is it to force other team's games to be shown? Ever hear of the free market? If they aren't being shown, it is because no one wants to watch them. On the other hand, the market for KU games is enormous. Look at what team consistently gets the best ratings on ESPN Big Monday games. KU fans around the country rely on the Full Court Hoops broadcasts to follow their team. I am sick of KU basketball being used to help the have-nots in the conference. KU certainly doesn't get the benefit of such treatment when football season rolls around. This is ridiculous.

I would really like to know why the Big XII conference is blocking Full Court Hoops from showing the KU games, and I'd like to know who it was that made this absurd decision. I want my Jayhawk basketball.

And Mr. Allen's response:

Thank you for your inquiry to the Big 12 Conference related to ESPN Full Court telecasts of Big 12 basketball. Due to the large number of inquiries, I apologize that I will not be able to answer all of the individual questions.

In short, Big 12 games carried by ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and ESPN+ that have traditionally aired on ESPN Full Court will continue to be carried on Full Court.

At this time we are working to clear a contractual issue with ESPN that would permit games that are on local packages like Jayhawk TV, Cyclone TV, Missouri Sports Net, etc., to be carried either on Full Court or a pay-tier delivery service of the choosing of the Big 12 institution. Our contract with ESPN does not allow for the airing of games outside of the state of the competing team(s). Several of our school packages have inadvertently been violating this by allowing rights holders to place games on services like Full Court.

While this situation may be a disservice to the avid and loyal fans of schools that have utilized ESPN Full Court for local package games in the past, it is our desire that the rights holders for ALL member institutions of the Big 12 either comply with the contractual obligation of the Conference, or, allow access to similar service to all 12 institutions. In other words, the displaced fans of School A in California should have the same opportunity to watch the games of their school as School B. ESPN has the right to waive this provision for all schools, but not selected schools.

Again, we are working to resolve this issue. To voice your concerns directly to ESPN you can call the network at its viewer feedback line -- 860-766-2236 (press option ‘0' to leave a recorded message). Despite our efforts, ESPN has not provided us with a direct number or email of an individual at the network for patrons to contact.

Thank you for your support of college basketball.

Tim Allen Associate Commissioner

A response to his response:

Our contract with ESPN does not allow for the airing of games outside of the state of the competing team(s). Several of our school packages have inadvertently been violating this by allowing rights holders to place games on services like Full Court. Who asked for this term in the contract? ESPN or the conference? If it is the conference, what is the rationale for such a ridiculous restriction? If it is ESPN, what was their rationale?

In other words, the displaced fans of School A in California should have the same opportunity to watch the games of their school as School B.

Well, no. I disagree. Particularly if School A is one of the top teams in the country year in and year out with thousands of fans who watch the games on ESPN and School B is a perennial celler dweller with not a prayer of going to the tournament, with fans that don't show up to see games in person. It's simple economics really. School A's fans are willing to pay to see the games on TV. School B's aren't. But you will make a network carry school B's games just to seem "fair." Absurd.

You just confirm that you are using KU basketball to help out other conference schools. That is simply wrong. Particularly since the conference doesn't do the same thing during football season. If you want to know why people think the conference is biased toward the Texas schools and to football, this is precisely why. I am truly outraged.

I'll let you know if we get a response back. For now, I encourage you to email Tim Allen at the B12 at Tim@big12sports.com and Burke Magnus at ESPN at burke.magnus@espn.com.

The louder we are, the better chance we have of seeing games. Let ESPN and the Big 12 know that you'll simply not subscribe for $99 for 5 games. I suspect they'll see their folly in reduced revenue this year if they fail to correct this situation quickly, but that doesn't help us as fans.

Make your voice heard.

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