Local businesses still unable to broadcast UT-Kansas game

Jody Serrano

Local businesses may take a hit this Saturday by not being able to show the UT-Kansas football game. ESPN still has not reached a deal with a major Central Texas cable operator to broadcast the Longhorn Network.

Keri Potts, a LHN spokeswoman, said negotiations with Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network and Comcast cable providers have been inactive for more than a month. Many local sports bars, including Pluckers and Cuatro’s, have tried to get LHN but have had no luck. Grande Communications and Verizon FiOS are currently the only major cable providers that carry the network in Central Texas.

Munson Stodder, general manager for Pluckers on Rio Grande, said his restaurant currently has DirecTV and a Time Warner Cable box but still does not get LHN. Munson said he ordered the cable box because he hoped Time Warner would begin to offer LHN and said he would switch to Grande if it were an option. Grande is currently providing services in certain parts of Austin.

“It’s not our decision to play or not to play the LHN,” Munson said. “Some people would say we just don’t want to pay the extra money, but I would have LHN playing here every day if I could.”

Despite the obstacles, Munson said his restaurant still plays the game’s full audio and does not expect to take a huge hit by not being able to show the game on Saturday. Munson said his restaurant was luckier than others because of student pregame and postgame rushes but that other restaurants, like the Pluckers on Research Boulevard and South Lamar Boulevard, could see losses ranging from $2,000-3,000 from not being able to show the game.

Munson said he hopes ESPN will reach an agreement by next January when swimming, track and baseball start up.

Ryan Kelly, a spokesman for Time Warner, said Time Warner has had discussions with ESPN about carrying LHN but has not come to an agreement at this time. Kelly also said customer inquiries about LHN have been low.

Wendy Myrick, assistant manager at Cuatro’s on 24th Street, said Cuatro’s expects to take a hit in profits on Saturday. She also said Cuatro’s was very disappointed that LHN has not worked out a deal with any major providers, because customers have been calling constantly to ask whether the bar is going to show the game on Saturday.

Cuatro’s currently uses Time Warner Cable and Dish Network.

Myrick said it is sad Cuatro’s won’t be able to show the game because it has one of the biggest TV screens in Austin and has done its best to support LHN.

“We’ve been doing anything we can to promote LHN and it just hasn’t worked out the way we wanted,” Myrick said.

“There will be disappointment [on Saturday, but] we’re not telling people we’re not showing it until the second it comes on. There’s still a chance.”

Myrick said Cuatro’s will show other games on Saturday to compensate for the UT-Kansas game.

Petroleum engineering senior Philippe Brady said he is angry at how long it’s taking the network and cable operators to reach a deal because it primarily affects the fans in the end.

“Our school has an unprecedented network that could change the face of college sports, and a vast majority of Texas students can’t watch it,” Brady said. “This network is something students should be proud of, but all we can do is wonder what we’re missing out on.”

Printed on Friday, October 28, 2011 as: Bars starting to suffer by not carrying LHN