While I realize that compared to most of you I am a casual competition viewer, I want to add an alternative view to watching competition live. First I want to say that I do especally enjoy watching some competitions, such as Nationals and Olympics live, and did enjoy watching Skate America. I find, however, that after 3 or 4 days of watching figure skating at all hours of the night and day for weeks on end, I'm somewhat burnt out and feel as though I am re-emerging from a cocoon that includes only my living room, kitchen and computer, back to life again when it's over. Rather, I find that I enjoy watching the competitions at a slower pace far more, and feel that taking all week to see them is nicer. It doesn't matter if I already know who won, I simply enjoy watching superb skating. I do not subscribe to other boards, however, and --as noted above-- am more of a casual skating fan.
I am hoping that Ice Network is able to strike a deal similar to last year's that, for an extra 6 bucks, allows us to view 4 Continents and the Worlds. It doesn't have to be live, but it would be nice to see the skating.
I sympathize with your frustration over not being able to watch the Grand Prix live. After all, football is shown live and in its entirety, as are many other sports.
But I also feel that we need to support icenetwork while it develops. It will get there. There's just not enough money yet, and I'm sure that to people at NBC, icenetwork looks pretty piddling--like a mom shooting home video from her camcorder. But as more and more people subscribe to icenetwork, it will get better and then more people will subscribe, and then NBC will realize that they have lost us all.
I disagree with you about the live results from Regionals and Sectionals. For those of us who are involved with our local figure skating clubs, and who have friends and relatives involved in clubs across the United States, it is so nice for us to be able to get ther results in a timely way!
I can remember when the results from Regionals or Sectionals were phoned back to one of the local coaches, who then had to type up or hand-write the results and post them on a bulletin board in the rink. Well, that didn't help us at all until the next morning when we drove to the rink! It's just glorious to be able to sit here in my family room sipping pop and reading the results within a few minutes or hours after the events.
Please keep in mind that for many of us, figure skating is not about "stars" or "elite athletes," it's about our friends that we have made through the years and about the people who are members of our local figure skating clubs.
I encourage all of you who are fans to get involved with your LOCAL club and find local kids and adults and teams and make THEM your stars! Someday, one of those kids or adults or teams might really BE a star of the sport, and you will be so glad that you have suported them with your club dues, fundraising help, and volunteer work at local competitions and shows. Better yet, if you are young and healthy enough, learn to skate yourself and we will all watch for YOUR name on the Regionals and Sectionals results feed. Honestly, figure skating is so much more fun when you are participating rather than just fanning.
fan1: that was a very thoughtful post and made me think about what I had written earlier in this post feed.
I would like to rebuttal..no, that's not the right word...comment on what you wrote.
In previous posts (last season) I wrote that many people may not understand the political economy behind figure skating, and although most of this has nothing to do with the actual skating (the skaters technique, jumps, programs, judging, etc) it influences figure skating in a tremendous way. I think your post here and a recent post by you really underscores some of the complexity of the relationship between figure skating, the networks, its popularity, and which figure skaters become "darlings of the sport." I'm not going to say the viewers are manipulated or that there is some board meetings being held in the back rooms of USFSA and ISU about who and what to show, that is too simplistic and doesn't recognize the tremendous amount of resources that go into production of not just the events but the marketing, packaging, etc of these events and the skaters that participate.
Because i'm a US Figure Skating member as part of a local club, I was able to receive the discounted price this year (thank you to USFSA). But I still understand the increasing frustration of many viewers about the cost associated with figure skating including watching it online. I don't want anyone to construe this as an argument for free stuff, that is not what i'm advocating. But there is a legitimate argument to be made that the more casual viewer (those that might be just interested in the Grand Prix events, 4CC, and Worlds) is what is required to build the popularity of the sport. How this can be done is up for argumentation and has been argued in many posts on Icenetwork. The question of access becomes of increasing concern when considering casual viewers and fans but these concerns are met abruptly by the politics and economics of figure skating. I think for many subscribers, the frustration is at this abrupt meeting point between viewership and the production and construction of the event being viewed. That fissure is palpable.
I, for one, will continue to subscribe to Icenetworks because I enjoy figure skating more than just casually...but for casual fans what is being offered may not be enough...this suddenly (or not so suddenly) becomes a chicken and egg argument. i.e. the popularity and dissemination of the sport requires viewership and active participation but this requires access to events not only on television but in the arenas...access = $$$. In another post of yours you suggest that access has increased over the years and that viewers are less manipulated (perhaps not quite the right word) into believing the hype constructed around some skaters. I could not agree with you more. But, I think there is still a steady stream of mediation of the events and the skaters we're supposed to like. But access to the events is crucial and this is where Icenetworks has provided a valuable service, and your take on sectionals and regionals has me thinking more about the local clubs across the US and i've rethought, in some cases, my earlier position. In most cases sectional video is not put up for a week or more but the results are and this service is invaluable, as you suggest. But I wonder why the hold up in releasing the videos sometimes more than a week after the competition. Perhaps more political-economics which I do not wish to reiterate again and again.
I will close this comment with stating that a (but more than one exists) benefit of subscription I find useful is the ability to watch and re-experience past events due to Icenetworks archival video section. As a skater that is relatively new (less than 5 years) I find it helpful to watch and re-watch these events as I examine technique and programs of the different skaters. It has helped in my ability to decipher moves and generally to learn about the sport (even if still mediated)
Just realized that I can't see the Grand Prix live. I was just selling icenetwork to my friend last night - sharing that not only could she see worlds and the grand prix live, but that this year there were even commentators and interviews. Alas, I was wrong. I didn't read the notice unfortunately, though I probably would've subscribed nonetheless. I do feel gypped in that I'm paying the same for a lot less than last year. It's infuriating really. But, what choice do I have living in a Comcast monopoly. I can't afford to fly to every competition.
I will say however that adding to the pain is icenetwork's homepage spoilers. REALLY! Must you announce the winners on the homepage AND the results side bar. Whenever I open icenetwork I have to cover the homepage, click quickly on schedule and results and cover the sidebar so I don't see the results before I get to see the now seven-day delayed video.
Give us a break please. Is this a sign of what's to come during the Olympics in Sochi?
I totally agree about the spoilers. This is one of the reasons why it is so frustrating to have to wait 7 days to watch an event. And now, with the 7 day delay, that makes it even harder to not see results. I think with this change, results should not be so blaring for people who do not want to be spoiled.
Someone earlier made a good point...that she didn't want to be up all hours of the night watching in order to see everything live. I did that once for the whole six weeks and practically made myself sick! From then on, I've watched the events ASAP, at the most convenient time for me. Until now events were put up on-demand about 7-10 hours later, so as soon as I was able to I watched the event. I feel like 7 DAYS is unacceptable, but if that's all Ice Network can do, I guess we have to either accept that or no longer subscribe. Like I said before, I DID go back and look at the subscription terms, and it DOES say that ONLY Skate America will be shown live:
"On-demand coverage of other premier events, including the 2012 Grand Prix Series*, the U.S. sectional championships, the U.S. regional championships and more."
If you go down to the bottom of the page and read the part with the asterisk, it says:
"*Skate America will be shown live and on-demand. Video from the rest of the events in the Grand Prix Series, including the 2012 Grand Prix Final and 2012 Junior Grand Prix Final, will be shown on-demand ONLY and be made available seven days after the end of each event."
So it is up to us to pay more attention before we subscribe, but I wish that it was made more apparent.
Because of this change, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE find a way to keep spoilers to a minimum. That is above all else my main concern.
Ditto on the spoilers on the home page. Can you post a link on the home page? People will click thorugh if they want to know the results.
Adding insult to injury, I sat down to watch Skate Canada and our local station decided to pre-empt to give us two hours of useless weather reporting. Hmm. Do you think they'd pre-empt the World Series or Sunday night football for a weather report? Don't think so. We need to get USFSA to sell the rights to skating competitions to anybody but NBC. Does anyone know how many more years they have on the air rights? Can't see it on Icenetwork and can't see it NBC and Universal Sports is not an available channel. Ugh!