Sunday, September 11, 2016

Why wasn't Hawai'i's home game available online?

While I was out tonight, the Mountain West provided the following statement on Twitter regarding the online availability of the UT Martin at Hawai'i football game (Thanks to Pigskin Press for passing along):
Over the past few years, Hawai'i's home games have been available online through Campus Insiders and the Mountain West Network to mainland consumers where Oceanic Cable continues to own the rights to the games in the state of Hawai'i, distributing them via pay-per-view.

So why aren't they continuing to stream the games online?

To accomplish an online blackout in Hawai'i, Campus Insiders requires the geographic location of the consumer to approve or deny viewing of the game.  They do this today for Mountain West games airing on ROOT Sports.  You might have to turn on location services on your smartphone or enable the passing of your geolocation through your browser before viewing the game.  My suspicion is that consumers in Hawai'i had found a way around the geolocation requirement and that many viewers in the state were getting games for free when they should not have been based on existing agreements in place.  Because the online providers appear to have not been able to guarantee that only mainland viewers could see the stream, it appears that the stream has been cut off for everyone.

As MWConnection has previously reported, Hawai'i does not participate in the Mountain West's TV deals.  Instead, their television revenue is realized through the Oceanic Cable contract, so it does make sense for the school to protect its revenue source and for Oceanic Cable to recoup their investment.

Dan Ormsby noted that Oceanic Cable had stopped streaming other Hawai'i content to BigWest.TV in March.  While most of those sports aren't on pay-per-view, they are part of Oceanic Cable's OC Sports channel and providing those games free to BigWest.TV, possibly without geographic restrictions, could have been a sticking point between the school, television provider and possibly the Big West.  That is speculation on my part.

Content from ESPN3 and MLB.TV, for example, has blackout restrictions for specific markets and with BAMTech and Campus Insiders coming together, maybe a solution can be found in the near future,

Additional edit: The Mountain West statement makes the following clear, but it is something I glossed over: The online option is unavailable regardless of where you live.  Those living in Hawai'i who don't have Oceanic Cable or Hawaiian Telcom as a television provider, such as those using a larger dish for DirecTV or Dish service or those not subscribing to pay television service, are also unable to view the football games live if they want to.  The online option was also available in Hawai'i for a fee in previous seasons and it may have been a lower fee per game than the television package was, but I'm struggling to find data on it.  In any case, not having the stream around in the state of Hawai'i, since it was a pay-per-view stream, also hits Hawai'i and Oceanic Cable in the pocketbook and, for now, it appears Oceanic Cable believes that the best way to control the viewing of the games is to limit its distribution to television as a platform.

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