Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm ready for some (American) football

It's that time of year again. Teams have been in the camps for a few weeks, and the preseason games are starting. (American) Football is not that popular in France, so of the 8 sports channels I already have, none show any football (other than the superbowl), so when football season starts up, I call my cable company and add the "Full Sports" package, which includes ESPN America, to get my football fix.

My cable company is one of the most expensive cable companies in France, but it is also the only company that carries ESPN America, so they got my business. My cable bill will go up by 6 Euros per month (about 8 bucks), but I get another soccer channel, another soccer channel, a soccer channel devoted to the local Lyon team, another one for the local Marseille team, an extreme sports channel, and ESPN America.

ESPN America is not quite the same as the ESPN channel that you get in America. In fact the name ESPN America is quite nonsensical to me, shouldn't it be ESPN France?

The bad things about ESPN America are:

1.) No version in HD. Sports, and football in particular, were the whole reason I bought an HDTV in the US, and paid extra for the HD channels. ESPN America is only available in low-def.
2.) No NBA games. The NBA rights are owned by French channel Canal+, which costs about 30 bucks per month, and only shows a couple games per week, usually after midnight (live).
3.) No Sportscenter! Sportscenter is what made ESPN ESPN. Probably due to the lack of NBA rights mentioned above, but not having sportscenter is a big let down :-(

The good things are:

1.) No soccer. Probably because the 14 sports channels I now have that show soccer, and of course the big games come on one of the main public channels too, ESPN here doesn't bother to show any soccer. or tennis. I like soccer, and tennis, but I want my ESPN to focus on the sports the french channels do not cover.
2.) Lots of NHL. ESPN in the US doesn't cover NHL anymore, you have to get the Outdoor Life Channel (now Versus). OLC/Versus is not a bad channel, but it was not available on all cable companies in the US. ESPN here shows a lot of NHL broadcasts, including Hockey Night in Canada.
3.) More sports. We don't have Sportscenter, but we do have Mike & Mike and Pardon the Interruption in the morning, and in the evening we have NFL Live and Baseball tonight and shows like that. Outside of those shows in the morning and evening, all of the other programming is sports!
4.) Very few commercials! Like all channels in France, commercials are rare. If you are staying up late to catch games live (6 hour time difference with the East Coast) then you get the same broadcast as the US, with all the lovely commercials, but if you are watching the taped rebroadcast, all the commercials are stripped. You get to cram more sports into the same amount of time.

I just got thru watching the rebroadcast of the Hall of Fame game (the first game of the preseason), and I watched it in a little less than 2 hours (compared to 3 live), and in case you missed it, here is the best play of that game.

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