I just wanted to watch the Rose Bowl

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund at 1:10 pm by George Smith

You feel it in about every aspect of American life. The relentless corporate grasping, an environment in which every minute of every day is taken up with the extraction of every last bit of profit possible from the populace.

The television slate of bowl games yesterday neatly illustrated it. And I’m not talking about the ridiculous corporate brand names the the country’s most odious firms have insisted on strapping onto these things.

What I am talking about has to do with control of the American web. I havenít had television for three years but I can tell you that three years ago I could still watch most college football game broadcasts on the web free at ESPNís web portal. This did not seem to be a big deal.

Yesterday, and for most of the past two years, thatís been a memory. Corporate America has taken complete control of the web and now itís a toll road.

At least ninety-eight percent of the games this holiday season were pay-walled, requiring you to sign in using your cable tv provider credentials.

Corporate America doesn’t call it that. It’s changed the meaning of the word free into there’s another automatic ticket cost for that. Because the only way to watch ESPN’s tv feed on the net is by having a business contract with the web content providers that have deals with them.

The only actual free part, and it was meager, was on ESPN3.

There the sports network offered a minimal slate of the lower tier bowl games free but only as streams called Skycam or Spidercam.

A Skycam stream is a feed from behind the line of scrimmage of the team that has the ball. There is no play by play or instant replay. You also cannot hear the announcer at the field.

Think of it as the worst end zone seating available except with no play-by-play calling and no scoreboard. You can Google the live score in another browser window.

But you still get force fed all the commercials in full HD in the breaks.

Now, go ahead. Sneer at me for watching college football. But Iím here by myself in Pasadena and thatís what I was going to do. Watch the Rose Bowl. I live here.

For the Rose Bowl, it was the “Spidercam” feed on ESPN3.

Four minutes in, the network pulled the plug on that, too, although it had allowed morning viewing of the Michigan State/Baylor and Wisconsin/Auburn games.

Suddenly, a pop-up appeared on the Rose Bowl stream, one insisting you prove you were getting internet access from an accepted provider.

Finding a pirated stream and getting past the advertising overlays designed to put ransomeware on your system took me another ten minutes. I lost the first quarter of the Rose Bowl doing it but then watched, uninterrupted, the rest of ESPN’s live broadcast.

So I did get to watch.

But the wall-to-wall avarice shown by the already insanely wealthy agencies of college football, ESPN and the cable providers is just another illustration of things very worthy of hate and destruction.

In the morning the Rose Parade was free. Corporate America also couldn’t monetize the sky over Pasadena. I stepped outside to see the yearly stealth bomber flyover of the Rose Bowl, just a little northwest of me, before the kick-off at two o’clock.

But living in this country you have the feeling business would have been into your pocket for even that if there was a way.

Please provide your log-in credentials from our list of providers before you can step outside.

As a related thought question: Do you think corporate America is worth defending from cyber-attacks?

For Heaven’s sake, if “yes,” why?


  1. anon said,

    January 2, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Wait until they start charging to watch anything, either via the internet or a television service provider. It will suck to be anyone living in an area with a distinct lack of competition (probably a good chunk of the USA) between “service providers,” enduring all kinds of outages and still paying a premium rate for garbage service and selection.

    A side note on the “money grubbing” part: Over the past ten years or so, there was a distinct increase in cable TV shows centered on gambling or other, risky financial behaviors. During the housing
    “boom,” shows were dedicated to “house flippers” and the “real estate game” in the “hot” markets. Also, I didn’t know what Texas Hold’em was (or that it was a “sport”) until I saw it on TV.

    Now, it’s shows about people who find “treasures” picking through trash, storage lockers, and flea markets, or entire programs dedicated to *fantasy football,* of all things. It’s like some people don’t want the masses to work daily and collect regular paychecks with job benefits, to have anything resembling security or consistency in life. It’s all a roll of the dice.

    Just remember: eventually, the house always wins.

  2. George Smith said,

    January 3, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    There was no real choice in cable tv providers back when I had tv. Depending on what zipcode you were in, you had only once choice. It was effectively zoned for the benefit of a cartel.

    Internet service is, obviously, similar. There’s no price competition and costs for packages is much more than they’re worth. AT&T, for example, which controls my zip is now pushing, or trying to push, everyone into its uVerse service, which costs more but does not provide much additional in the way of service except, I’m assuming, less throttling. Which it appears to do quite a bit, in effect daring the government to make them stop impeding access speeds as a pressure tactic.

    This shoehorns back into my arguments about computer security. How do you secure corporate American networks when large masses of people despise it, including many of its own “employees”? One of the fruits of increasing inequality that computer security types haven’t really talked about because it’s not an, ahem, technical issue, it’s a global social one.

  3. Racer_X said,

    January 4, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Yes the firewall mentality worked out so well or boxing, didn’t it?

  4. George Smith said,

    January 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    How many people actually do pay-per-view now for boxing? I never see it advertised much on the net; no idea what its profile is on network tv.

    Incidentally, ESPN is going to pay-tv — 20 dollars a month on Dish along with a few other things to “attract” younger viewers who don’t want to pay cable but want streaming.


    Just more of the same, different corporate deal, trying to grab everything possible through direct subscription, making it cheaper to compete with the larger gouges it was using on the cable networks.

  5. Ted Jr said,

    January 5, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I seldom have problems of ransomware installs with unofficial broadcast outlets. The trick is to use an older browser like Firefox 3 and to make certain that the flash plugin is updated. Ghostery plugin will take care of the trackers and 80% of the annoying popups. Most advertising come-ons I see consist of an empty space with an ‘x’ on the screen to indicate where to close it.

    Regarding the ‘pay for everything you want to do’ mentality, well gee whiz, you finally attended that meeting??? ;-)

  6. anon said,

    January 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Yeah, that vacuum cleaner hose being connected to your wallet isn’t going to pay for itself!

  7. George Smith said,

    January 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I think it’s fair to characterize the great majority of American businesses, particularly in this instance, as mega-parasites, often global. The business model discussed here is nothing more than rent-seeking, the technologically automated collection of monopoly rents for services that once were something of a simple unifying enjoyment in society but which now are not. Basically, because of the amount of money raked in being now virtually being the only reason for its existence and growth.

    Even the Rose Bowl had its smarmy corporate sponsor babbling something about “old time values” in its commercials, complete with old 8mm snips from the Fifties.

  8. George Smith said,

    January 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Here, an economist makes the slightly tongue-in-cheek assertion that a big college football program should be spun off from the “tax exempt”-funded university, since it’s a big profit-making operation.