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ESPN Bait and Switch: Advertise ESPN360 Games That Are Blacked Out?

Saturday, November 7, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 2:11 PM, under ,

ESPN has built a fairly impressive web platform. Like others, I do not particularly care for the new userface too much. But I do love to catch games I cannot otherwise see. I do not, however, like bait and switch tactics. I do not like being told to go to ESPN360 to watch a game they KNOW I cannot see because of blackout restrictions.

Here I sit, taking a break from outside yard work that needed catching up on. I thought I would hop on the ESPN web site to see if the University of Georgia Bulldogs might muster up some bark, and if Coach Mark Richt can do anything to right the ship (see my commentary on Bleacher Report) is my default "go to" site for scores because is not always so good. The ESPN site is smart. It knows I am coming to their site from Athens, Georgia and that I use AT&T for broadband access, so I get this banner ad above the scoreboard:

I looked at it and said to myself, "Self, isn't this Georgia's one allowed pay-per-view game? Why would UGA allow ESPN360 to show the game online? Wouldn't this cannabalize the $29.95 per user fee they are hoping to get people to pay for this game against a Division 1-AA, oops I mean FCS, opponent?"

So I had to take the bait and click on the link to see how many people did not show up for the game. Ah, but I couldn't. Once the ESPN360 player opened, here is what I got:

Yes, the same web platform that was smart enough to know I was coming to the site from Georgia, and knew that I was using AT&T, also knew that I could not watch the game. This nothing short of a bait and switch tactic to get people to open the ESPN360 site.

SO here is a note to the people who run these platforms for ESPN. If I am a college football fan coming in to check on the score of a game I know is not on TV, don't try and advertise, falsely, that I can watch the game on ESPN360. It is bad business, bad practice, and I don't think the Federal Trade Commission would take to kindly to it. You have a great platform, and if you were honest about what could be watched today, I actually would have been more enticed by a banner ad telling me that I can watch the Northwestern - Iowa game. That one is a lot more enticing that Tennessee Tech - Georgia.

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