Raycom is about to be a greasy smear beneath the wheels of the ESPN money truck, which just parked outside the SEC’s vault and is unloading $150 mil per year for 15 years. And that’s to televise all the games that CBS doesn’t. What does that mean for us, the fans? Well, hopefully it will mean that we’ll actually get to see a game that isn’t the CBS game of the week in HD.
Now, I don’t know if Raycom is the responsible party or not, but any SEC games broadcast in recent years that weren’t picked up by a major network have been simply awful broadcasts. The video equipment used was old in 1976, I believe, and they’ve never made any effort to upgrade. Or at least that’s what it looks like to me, watching on my shiny new LG 45″ widescreen LCD a fuzzy square box that makes me think my eyeglass prescription has expired. Then I switch over to CBS and see the sharp, crisp, clear HD picture and I feel a deep rage churning in my guts towards whoever is responsible for this, they who evidently believe the VCR is still the height of technology’s achievements.
Even if ESPN doesn’t broadcast every game in HD, the difference should still be noticeable. They’ll at least be using a modern video recorder, rather than a handheld analog betamax that they couldn’t sell at a yard sale if they wanted to. A pawn shop wouldn’t trade a stick of gum for one of those things, and they’re filming SEC games with them. Again, that’s what it looks like from the outside. I have no idea what kind of equipment they actually use, I just know it’s painful to see, and painful to think that I have better equipment in my living room than they have for a professional broadcast.
What else does this deal accomplish? Well, it guarantees ESPN that I’ll be signing up for their full spectrum of channels. Right now I don’t get ESPNU or ESPN360. I’m about to shell out the difference to make sure I do. Here’s hoping the broadcast world for the SEC just got a little better for fans of the SEC.