The burr up Speedy's Butt!
The 2012 – 2013 figure skating season gets underway August 22nd thru the 26th with the ISU Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Courchevel, France. Nearly simultaneous posting of program videos from this and all JGP events will be available for viewing on the ISU Junior Grand Prix YouTube channel @ http://www.youtube.com/ISU JuniorGrandPrix.
The following week, August 29th to September 1, the JGP Lake Placid, USA takes place. This is the only JGP event to be seen live on IceNetwork.com this season.
The ISU Grand Prix series beginning in mid-October (except for Skate America which U.S. Figure Skating holds live streaming rights) will not be available for simultaneous live streaming on IceNetwork this season along with UniversalSports.com. This change has been bought about by a UniversalSports.com change in their internet subscription policy. They have opted to discontinue individual event purchases and season subscriptions to anyone, in favor of an authentication process similar to that used by NBCOlympics.com during Olympics coverage. If your Television provider carries the Universal Sports Cable Channel on their system, you can purchase a season pass to view their offerings. Those who do not receive Universal Sports Channel on their systems will no longer have internet viewing access.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at this change and attempt to bring some reason and positives regarding future coverage of the sport.
First, what does this change in UniversalSports.com policy mean for IceNetwork.com? What Universal Sports’ new arrangement has done is restrict their ability to license live streaming to a third party like IceNetwork.com. Thus the simultaneous live streaming agreement that these two web entities have had the past two seasons is not possible this season. U.S. Figure Skating was however able to convince them to allow content to be made available via video on demand (VOD) on a one week delay. Considering their new carriage arrangements, this agreement is unprecedented but comes at a further financial cost to U.S. Figure Skating.
So what we have now is a step backward for skating fans who want at least the same or more live coverage of the sport especially on the internet. We can all thank Universal Sports for this. U.S. Figure Skating has done due diligence within the constraints dumped on them. It is not a satisfactory solution and they understand this fact and are no less frustrated than those of us they serve.
There is one positive to take away from this situation. This is the last season that Universal Sports owns the rights to the ISU events. Sources within U.S. Figure Skating indicate USFS is working closely with all key parties, including the ISU, to make sure that the future U.S. rights holder has clear and direct expectations on distribution of TV and digital content. U.S. Figure Skating’s message on this to the ISU “has been heard “according to the background information I have received. USFS officials are said to be confident that a more fan friendly arrangement that is good for the future of the sport will come from these efforts.
Next let’s address the chaff and chatter we are reading on forums, Facebook, Twitter and blogs regarding IceNetwork.com subscription costs.
Why is the IceNetwork.com season pass price of $39.95 staying the same particularly when live Grand Prix coverage has been denied them by UniversalSports.com? There are several factors in play. The foremost one is that IceNetwork.com is still paying a fee to license the video on demand rights even on a one week delay. Live coverage of both the Junior Grand Prix Lake Placid and the U.S. International in Salt Lake City events have been added at additional cost. According to information obtained annual costs have not gone down but in fact have increased as pricing to deliver content on IceNetwork.com has increased. U.S. Figure Skating may be lucky to just break even while not raising the annual IceNetwork.com subscription cost.
Also read internet-wide, have been suggestions that a majority of subscribers purchase season passes only to watch live Grand Prix events. Information I have access to indicates that this just isn’t the case. Video on demand actually dominates IceNetwork viewing statistics and surprisingly, not only VOD within 24 hours of an event but VOD numbers up to two weeks after an event outpace live viewership. This indicates fans have a passion for viewing well after events conclude. You can bet that USFS is counting on this trend to help carry them thru this coming season until better streaming arrangements can be obtained well into the future.
What about the new discounted annual subscription price of $19.95 for USFS Members? Well there is reason and strategy behind this effort and it comes with a calculated risk too.
Sources tell me that USFS members have not embraced the IceNetwork Season Pass as they hoped they would. This reduced price for USFS members is an effort to get a large increase in member participation. If successful in this regard the discounted subscription rate can become permanent. If not, USFS will not be able to recoup the lost revenue for offering it.
Finally, I have been an IceNetwork subscriber and long-time member of U.S. Figure Skating. I love the sport with all my heart and want both entities to succeed. I am most appreciative of the discounted season pass cost and intend to take full advantage of it this season and hopefully well into the future. I believe it is imperative that all current and future members of USFS take advantage of this discounted season pass and help IceNetwork become the première streaming site for the sport web-wide. Please go to http://web.icenetwork.com/ and subscribe today!
Editor, Blazing Blades
Last edited by dorispulaski; 08-19-2012 at 12:30 PM.
Wicked Yankee Girl
Paula & the moderators have been discussing allowing IN links in the Edge, especially in view of IN's somewhat embattled status as a provider of streaming video and skating news & interviews, a status which the post above emphasizes
Granted, IN has not been reciprocal to us at GS, but given our common stake in the health of the sport, all of us feel that we should express our solidarity with IN by allowing IN links in The Edge.
The Guidelines have been adjusted accordingly.
Part of me wants to support skating via Ice Network, and part of me is still cranky that the only way to get even the level of coverage I was used to before about 2006 is to cough up money that I don't really have. I appreciate that the online services have content I wouldn't have seen even were the broadcast time slots what they used to be, but I don't like that I have to pay even for what I used to get as a part of my cable package. I know this is mostly NBC's and Universal Sports' faults, but if we want to get more people interested in the sport, making a pay-to-watch stream the only real option for getting decent coverage of the sport isn't it. The streaming coverage only appeals to people who are already fans, whereas the cable coverage had the potential to bring in new fans. It's too bad that NBC seems to want to limit their skating coverage, and really their coverage of any sport that is not a major professional sport, to the bare bones and then extract money out of us for anything better. Thus I have not subscribed to Ice Network in a few years, even when I've had a membership discount available.
Originally Posted by dorispulaski
and... World Peace!
well it's not JUST NBC's issue... if you've got Direct TV there's no way to just add Universal Sports... for us to get it we'd have to bump our bill up another $25 to get it because you can only get it with one of their stupid extra sports packages
Wicked Yankee Girl
DirectTv also has USsports, but also requires one to pay more than for a basic package.
NBC also has a proto-ESPN clone that comes with the basic package on my cable system. It had Olympic trials, including the gymnastics ones, and other Olympic sports.
I am hoping, that given the success of their Summer Olympic coverage, that skating will be on NBC Sports this fall as part of an effort to increase interest in their Winter Olympics coverage for 2014, but so far NBC has not made this move.
Last edited by dorispulaski; 08-19-2012 at 01:41 PM.
and... World Peace!
And you can't get *just* US... you have to get a ton of other channels with it on top of whatever basic package you have.
Originally Posted by dorispulaski
What level of coverage did you have before about 2006?
Originally Posted by MoonlightSkater
As I recall, there was partial Grand Prix coverage on ABC and ESPN, with all of the coverage except for the final flight of ladies and maybe one other discipline at Skate America being delayed by a few days up to a whole week and they rarely showed more than the top half of the field.
And partial same-day but not live Nationals SP coverage, the LP coverage being about the same as what we get with NBC.
For a few years in between there Universal offered more live coverage much of which was then repeated several times during the week, but it was only available to those who had access to that channel, which right now is very few of us.
Ice Network only had at most a couple years of live GP coverage online very recently, and it didn't yet exist in 2006.
Between cable subscriptions or online subscriptions, it has always been necessary to pay for more than an hour or two of TV coverage per Grand Prix event, maybe up to 4 hours of Skate America. Of course if you were paying for a cable subscription anyway that included whatever network was offering the coverage at the time, it didn't seem like an added expense.
ABC/ESPN used to do the Grand Prix coverage split over two weeks where I lived, 2 hours the first weekend, then 2-3 hours the second weekend. Towards the end of their contract they seemed to drop the coverage in favor of other sports more easily, but at least we'd see the top end of the field. I suppose "free" isn't entirely true for ESPN, but we already had the basic cable package, so we were not paying more for it. That's double the coverage I would expect from NBC nowadays, and they did show the short programs of nationals in a separate broadcast back in 2006 instead of just sneezing at a few of them. So there would be up to four or five hours of coverage for Grand Prix evnets, possibly, and about eight hours of nationals back pre-2006. I did subscribe to Ice Network the first couple of years it was offered, but even back then I was worried that it would give them a reason to be okay with less favorable t.v. deals, and I can't help but wonder if that is the case - that they don't care as much that NBC doesn't want to show short programs because they can get money from people to watch them on top of the fees NBC paid for the rights to the competition. I really enjoyed Universal Sports when I had access to it, but I have Comcast and am not about to switch to inferior internet just so I can pay more for t.v. and watch skating (my Comcast internet price includes t.v. and would not go down if we only wanted internet).
Originally Posted by gkelly
For a number of people, the price or lack of high speed internet makes something like IN out of their reach. I mean no disrespect with what follows.
I think it is too bad that Universal is doing this - I actually paid for both IN last year and Worlds with Universal - just wanted to be sure I could watch what I wanted to watch live and liked what I saw of each. In other words, I can afford the 40 bucks with IN and (i forget the universal fee - was it 5 or 10 dollars for worlds coverage). I'm not happy that I won't have the ability to see the GP's live now. What happens with me - and I think a lot of people - is not matter how hard I try, if it don't watch live, I end up 'finding' the results somehow and then that changes the feeling while watching.
Having said that, I have really enjoyed, though, watching IN - even events on demand or after the actual event, because I get to see so many more skaters than I did in the 1990s and before. As a result, I really really can appreciate the different skill levels of the very top from the rest...and that's just one example. So, I think I'm saying is that I appreciate access to events live and in that sense, support the work IN has been doing and will renew this year despite the GP issue. I really do hope that something better works out for the Olympic season though.
I got your program components right here.
I second that, Emma! It drives me crazy that if I sign in to IN to watch an event after it has concluded (even if just on the next day, for events that take place in the middle of the night relative to my time zone), I see the results splashed across their main page. I find myself squinting and awkwardly covering half of my computer screen with my left hand, hoping I'll find the link to the video before my eyes accidentally catch sight of the headlines.
Originally Posted by emma
A month or so ago, US Figure Skating members received an email stating that US Figure Skating's members would receive a $20 discount on their icenetwork.com Season Pass. Members were notified that subscriptions were only $19.95. With the cost of figure skating being so expensive, I'm sure every US Figure Skating member appreciated hearing the news of the $20 off.
There was a note at the bottom of the email that stated the following:
"*If you are a current U.S. Figure Skating member and you are auto-renewed at the full price of $39.95, we apologize in advance for the inconvenience. Please call icenetwork.com Customer Service at 866.464.8499 and they will verify your membership status and refund $20 to your credit card."
Sounds quick and easy, correct? WRONG!
A couple weeks ago, I called US Figure Skating and also icenetwork's Customer Service department and explained that the email associated with my icenetwork.com account was different than the email associated with my US Figure Skating membership. I was told (after calling three times and being put on hold twice ) that all was taken care of and that I'd be only charged $19.95 when my auto-renew came up. That did not happen.
Last week, as I checked my bank balance, I noticed I was automatically charged $39.95, so I called icenetwork's customer service to take care of the problem. Getting $20 credited back to my debit card should have been quick and easy, but instead, I was put on hold and transferred from person to person and "account specialists" for a total of three hours! I had to call icenetwork back three or four times since I was put on hold so long that I thought I'd been forgotten.
When I finally actually spoke to a real person, each icenetwork.com representative I spoke with said they were not authorized to grant my $20 refund, and wanted proof and more proof I was really a US Figure Skating member. Even with the proof, I was told they could not do anything to grant my refund, but could transfer me to someone who could do more than they could do. I kept getting transferred and being put on hold. I kept being told only an "account specialist" with more seniority could help me. The senior account specialist told me only the corporate office could grant a refund. A supervisor finally told me she was sorry that I'd been put through so much red tape. It was a completely wasted afternoon!
I ended up ringing up more than $30 of minutes on my cell phone all for a silly $20! I believe after all this hassle, I deserve a complete refund for the entire $39.95.
This type of customer service is unacceptable in my opinion. I hope US Figure Skating will consider improving their members's icenetwork.com experience.
Icenetwork's videos deserve a lot of stars, but the billing customer service does not even deserve one star in my opinion.
At the rink. Again.
US Figureskating doesn't own/control IN, unfortunately (or fortunately). It is owned and managed through Major League Baseball (yep, you read that right)...
and... World Peace!
This always boggles my mind, that somehow USFSA should not be held responsible for these mishaps. They have been working with this company to get icenetwork up and running. They partner with them. If they don't want to have a negative view on them you'd think they'd be up IN's butt. But they always just say "well, they don't work *for* us."
Originally Posted by mskater93
I haven't used IN since they over charged me and never refunded THEIR mistake.
At the rink. Again.
I just think the whole arrangement is odd and it seems to be a very poorly run organization from a customer service perspective. I don't have issues if I call Colorado Springs for a question - they transfer me to someone who can answer it and are very professional about it, but IN customer service is like calling your CC company in the Capital One ads ("Hello, this is Peggy, how can I help you?")
Originally Posted by Tonichelle
Welcome, joannskater. Thanks for joining us!
Tell them,"OK, since you are the monkey, can I speak to the organ grinder, please?"
Originally Posted by joannskater