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Thread: Ice Network

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    The burr up Speedy's Butt! visaliakid's Avatar
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    Ice Network

    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!

    Peter Murray
    Editor, Blazing Blades
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 08-19-2012 at 12:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    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.
    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.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    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

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    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.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    DirectTv also has USsports, but also requires one to pay more than for a basic package.
    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.

  7. #7
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    That, sadly, is what is unpleasant about the current delivery model for cable TV. You can't subscribe to just the channels you watch. It's true of all cable providers, AFAIK, and is due to the business models of the content providers, again AFAIK.

    Who'd have thought I'd miss pre-cable TV Not only was it free, as long as I lived where I could get Canadian channels, I had great skating coverage.

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    depends on the channel, though... you can get several channels by themselves. just not US... directv sucks all the way around, though. their customer *service* is non existent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoonlightSkater View Post
    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.
    What level of coverage did you have before about 2006?

    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.

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    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.

  11. #11
    I got your program components right here. Pepe Nero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emma View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Yes, I do the same.

  13. #13
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    theres no way to stream IN video onto the TV without hooking up to the computer, right? that'd make it easier as my dad and I like to watch together. (though it's a moot point it seems this season)

  14. #14
    Celebrating the Excellence of #VirtueMoir golden411's Avatar
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    As an aside:

    The ISU seems to be launching (or re-launching?) its restructured YouTube network, according to a new Facebook post. http://www.facebook.com/isufigureska...34594999912057

    ISU YouTube channels with Figure Skating content:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/SkatingISU (which includes, but is not limited to Figure Skating)

    https://www.youtube.com/ISUFigureSkating

    https://www.youtube.com/ISUJuniorGrandPrix (for JGP of Figure Skating)

    (Speed Skating and Short Track both have their own individual channels too.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    What level of coverage did you have before about 2006?

    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).

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