The University of Miami Hurricanes will begin a new era Thursday when they open their first season at Dolphin Stadium against Charleston Southern. But unless you have a ticket, your only option for viewing the game will be on ESPN360.com. And that’s only if your Internet Service Provider carries the broadband sports network.
The broadband network, which has operated at ESPN360.com for about a year, but has actually been around in some form since 2002, is streaming more than 300 college football games this year, some of them – like Thursday’s UM game – exclusively. The college games are just a small portion of the more than 3,000 events a year the service is broadcasting. It’s just another way ESPN is seeking to broaden the broadcast offerings for sports fans.
“ESPN’s mission is to serve sports fans, whenever and wherever they are,” said Damon Phillips, vice president of ESPN360.com. “ESPN360.com is a critical part of the strategy. We want sports fans to be able to access sports at home on ESPN, ESPN2, in the car on ESPN Radio, at a party, they can access ESPN mobile or at work or at home on ESPN360.com.”
ESPN360.com chooses its college games after the networks make their selections.
“When we saw the University of Miami game was still available, we thought it would be an amazing opportunity to take such a storied program,” Phillips said. “It’s Coach [Randy] Shannon’s second season, one of the first times in a long time Miami is not nationally ranked.”
UM has been on ESPN360 exclusively in the past, including the games against North Carolina State last year and Duke in 2006.
The broadband network is available for free to users with high-speed Internet connections through providers including AT&T and Verizon. Log in and the site will tell you whether your provider carries the network. It’s available in about 24 million homes across the country and to more than 18 million users on college campuses and military bases. The net’s goal is to be available to all 60 million to 65 million broadband users.
ESPN360.com has a range of offerings including major U.S. sports properties such as the NBA, NASCAR, college football and basketball; international sports including soccer, Euroleague basketball, and cricket; and other niche sports including open wheel racing, international raquetball and polo from Argentina. It also archives the games.
The other college games being broadcast Thursday are Jacksonville State v. Georgia Tech (exclusively); North Carolina State v. South Carolina (also on ESPN); and Oregon State v. Stanford (also on ESPN2).