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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Comcast Busted for Cheap PR Stunt in Dispute with BTN

The negotiating war between Comcast and the Big Ten over carriage issues regarding the soon-to-be-launched Big Ten Network (BTN) is starting to resemble the dirty tricks of a political campaign.

Recently, a "big fan" began putting up posts on various college football message boards blasting the BTN's negotiating position and pointing folks to a site advocating the views of the poor little cable company. The posts, apparently written by a regular fan rising up to challenge Jim Delaney and the Big Ten's negotiating tactics in the dispute, looked something like this one on an MSU site (obtained via Brian Cook's AOL Fanhouse site)...

"I'm a big fan of State sports so I went to the Big 10 Network's kick-off party in East Lansing last week. Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delaney was there telling everybody how great this new TV package is going to be for college football and b-ball fans. WHAT A CROCK! Delaney is like the emperor who wore no clothes...the BTC has already sold its best games to ABC and ESPN. How delusional is Delaney and these other Big 10 greedmongers who want to charge us for the games we'd be able to see on our local cable station? If you want to learn more about the Big 10's big time rip off, I found a web site that explains a lot... www.puttingfansfirst.org VICTORY FOR MSU!!!"

Just one problem: it was all bullshit.

Trevor Barnes, the site administrator at SpartanTailgate.com, discovered that the posts weren't honest fan outrage at all but rather a viral marketing ploy by a company on the Comcast payroll after they posted on his site.

Busted, fuckers.

Turns out, the rant was being posted around the blogosphere by some employee of Comcast-hire, Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications. And the "fan site" the poster linked to in his tirade was apparently by the same group as well.

In fact, this so backfired, the crack PR specialists behind the cheap stunt were forced to apologize to Barnes and the SpartanTailgate community after being outed...

To: Trevor Barnes and the posters at SpartanTailgate.com:

Please accept my apologies for the post by one of my company’s employees regarding the Big 10 Network’s insistence that the new channel be forced on all cable customers, not just those interested in sports. You were right to “out” that posting, as it did not clearly point out our company does work for Comcast (which did not pre-approve the message posted).

Our staffer is indeed a MSU student, and did attend Commissioner Delaney’s kickoff in East Lansing. And he is a big Spartan fan. Given a chance to buy the network as part of a sports tier, he probably would!

That doesn’t excuse our failure to identify that the posting was done by our company advocating for a particular position.

Again, my apologies. Go Spartans…at least until they play my Northwestern Wildcats!

David Waymire
Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications

What a load of crap. As someone even said on Spartan Tailgate, "Spin baby, spin." Wonder if the PR firm will hire its own crisis management folks after this blew up in their face?

Gee, and to think I didn't think I could like anybody less than Jim Delaney in this mess.

(HT: JW)


Out of Conference said...

Only an idiot would think the original psoting was real. There were no misspelled words, no abbreviations, no cuss words, no "F*** Delaney", and nothing about SEC fans thinking they're the best football conference in the land.
Besides there is so many bs posts out there... Bama fans posting as Barners, Miami (da U) fans posting as alumni, etc.

Out of Conference said...

Nice grammar - you can tell my post was real. I meant "posting" and "Besides there ARE so many bs posts...."

You should try V1Agra. I found this neat online, leGa1 pharmaCeuticAl website the other day, www.gethardstayhardgetchix.com. My girlfriend swears by the results. I think you would like it.

WingRG said...

Actually, as much as i would hate to side with the cable companies, i don't see anything wrong with that post. All the information posted was correct, right down to BTN holding B10's own alumni and students hostage b/c of its greed.

MGoBlue93 said...

I'm honestly confused... I've read the BTN's position is the BTN should be made widely available as possible. That translates to free (on the basic package a la DirecTV) or near free. BTN also wants their channel to be on the basic service in Big 10 states.

I've read that Comcast et al. are balking at BTN's wishes and wants to make the BTN a premium service.

If all that is true, then just how in the heck is... "right down to BTN holding B10's own alumni and students hostage b/c of its greed."... true?

How is a company, who directs the distributors that its service should be provided at no additional cost, greedy? Please advise.

Yost said...


By charging the cable companies a price that is out of line for what most start up networks normally get.

BTN is trying to charge like they're ESPN.

And while they want it on the "basic" package, don't think those costs don't get passed on.

Jimmy D and the BTN aren't doing the fans any favors.

Out of Conference said...

Exactly, Yost.

An analogy with a media reference- Hugh Hefner decides that it's time to give every horned up kid a subscription to Playboy for free available at the local quickie mart. Who wouldn;t want a free Playboy magazine?!? But he's charging Quickie Mart for each magazine that is picked up by said horned up kids. On top of that, the models in the free playboy are as high quality as the entertainment value of the women's curling match between Minnesota and Purdue.

A2saint said...

Womens curling....Awright!

where do I sign up

WingRG said...


i was simply referring to the fact that the games that they want to charge $$$ for this year were available to us for free last year. They are after more of our $$, as if student tuition/alumni donations aren't enough for them.

While BTN playing hardball in their negotiations with the cable companies, the people that will be hurt are the fans (we won't see the games that we want)

MGoBlue93 said...

Thanks Yost and OOC...

BTW, and by way of comparison (and since marketing isn't my forte), shouldn't the NFL network be considered bigger knuckleheads??? The NFL has much more nationwide appeal than the BTN and the NFL has turned all their games (which used to be over free broadcast TV) into PPV.

Wingrg... still don't get your point though... "simply referring to the fact that the games that they want to charge $$$ for this year were available to us for free last year."

Who is "they"? As a DirecTV customer, I'm not explicitly paying extra for the BTN and I get to see games I normally wouldn't see for free (ASU... not that I'm tickled about Martin's scheduling mind you). However, last year, I had to pay ten bucks to watch the MSU game. I don't think any of my past registration fees, extortion/student government fees, Victor's club donations, etc. went to offset ESPN/ABC/Game Plan costs.

Listen, I'm no Delaney apologist but from my point of view, the BTN is a great deal. I get to see football games I never would have and there is talk of some hockey games being aired as well. I saw Michigan hockey live for the first time in 10 years at the NCAAs and I'm ecstatic about the chance to see a game or two on the BTN.

Out of Conference said...

So what is the deal with DirecTV customers? Is the BTN part of the Sports Package?

I didn;t know the NFL Network was carrying their games this year as PPV. I get the NFL Network (DirecTV), does that mean I still have to order the individual PPV games?

Jeff said...

I disagree, not all the Michigan games were free last year. The Ball State game was on ESPN U, which nobody offers.

I had to go to a bar to see 3 of the games because they weren't on my local cable. Theoretically with the BTN this wouldn't happen. Most people who don't live in Michigan or NW Ohio probably had to do the same thing or buy ESPN Gameplan.

Personally I think the BTN has a lot of potential to be a great channel. Whether it will get on the air is a good question, but so is whether it will live up to its potential.

WingRG said...


as you can probably sense from my frustration, i don't have DirectTV. By 'they' i meant BTN.

I'm not sure how things are out west, but in Big 10 country all but one of my alma mater's games were available on either ESPN, ABC, or ESPN plus (which, here, were still over the air). One game was only available on ESPNU (which i didn't have, but i went to that game, so what did i care).

While i agree with you that BTN isn't a bad idea (i like watching some of the olympic sports, etc) but taking away the free football games with one hand and suggesting Big10 has the best interests of fans at heart with the other hand seems like hypocrisy (sp?) to me. The games should be available to anyone who wants to watch them (as far as fans are concerned), not to the select few that have a dish (although i realize that this number is now growing).

I think it will ultimately hurt the Big 10 (the middle tier) teams, that the polsters won't be able to see their games on GamePlan. But that's an argument for a different day.

MGoBlue93 said...

OOC... the BTN on DirecTV is part of the regular plan. You don't have to order the sports plan (and get 30 different airings of the Best Damn Sports Show Period) to get the BTN.

What DirectTV channel is NFL Network on? The last time I tried to find it was a regular season NFL game last year and it wasn't available. That's why I made the comparison that the NFL games (previously free on FOX and CBS) have for all intents and purposes become PPV when carried on NFLN.

MGoBlue93 said...

wingrg... I guess I lucked out then. There isn't any cable in the section of town in which I live. I only use the TV to watch sports but after missing good games with nationwide appeal, for snoozefests like Iowa State v. Baylor, I gave in and bought the dish.