The evils of ESPN3 have been pretty well documented on this site, and I agree with nearly every complaint listed. I still love the concept, and feel compelled to say a few words in support of the emerging platform.
Rarely do I get a chance to post anything of substance on this site because while Cardinal Athletics is my passion, sports are not where my expertise lies. I honestly can’t tell you why a draw play reads like a passing play, or why people are suddenly using the term “wildcat” to refer to our offense. Ask me about the differences between Android and iOS and I could go on for hours. While all things U of L will get my attention, I am far more upset about the fact that the U.S. ranks 15th in overall broadband connectivity, than the fact that our football team was picked to finish last in the Big East. In short, I'm a total geek.
When I was growing up I was constantly fed lies about my future. “When you are an adult,” my wise elementary teacher would say, “You will have a robot housecleaner, we will have colonies on the moon, and you will eat entire meals in pill form!” Perhaps that was just an episode of the Jetsons, but I know somebody along the line promised me a flying car. It is now 2010 and, outside of the Roomba, I feel cheated. In many ways we expected so much more from technology.
On the other hand, we’ve been given opportunities never before imagined. Computers are connected across the globe allowing communication near the speed of light. Mobile computers place near the sum of all human knowledge in the palm of your hand. I dare you to say “I wonder why we get motion sickness” (Hint: It’s an evolutionary hold-over to prevent poisoning) or “What year DID Benjamin Franklin die?” (1790) I’m going to be over wikipedia faster than a proton can cross the CERN Synchrotron. Perhaps the greatest gift the internet has given us is its use as a media platform capable of a seemingly infinite variety of content. We no longer have to decide what newspaper to subscribe to when every major newspaper, magazine, community newsletter, or underground counterculture tabloid is available online. More importantly we are no longer tied to traditional television as the only means of video delivery. If I want to get ESPN in HD, Insight requires me to pay for 225 other channels I may never watch. If I wanted to get ESPNU I would have to pay for 316 channels, because apparently getting 20 movie channels isn’t enough, I need to get the West Coast feed for those channels too! We are standing on the brink of a media revolution, where content need not be controlled by the regulated cable monopolies, or the few satellite companies, but set out for the world to see online.
Many television stations are licensing their shows for online streaming. Some producers are skipping the old standard all together and releasing directly online. Netflix allows for thousands of movies to be streamed, now onto your phone. The biggest thing those who have given up cable and dish are missing is live sports, but we’ve made tremendous strides here too. I know most of the sports world disagrees with me, but I think ESPN3 is one of the coolest innovations in the last few years. Yes they’re evil, but the promise of streaming high quality live sports is too exciting for a geek like me not to love. We’ve been living in a world where live events can be broadcast in High Definition in near real time, assuming you subscribe to the right channel, and that channel decides to broadcast the event. Now I can load up live streams from across the globe, all on the same platform. When I think of ESPN3 I feel a little less cheated about the future I was supposed to have. Someone still owes me a flying car.