Janesville73°

UW fans cut the cables

Print Print
THOMAS J. MILLER
November 2, 2007
— Bob Sessler is a huge University of Wisconsin football fan.

He also was a cable television customer.


That all changed Thursday afternoon.


Oh, Sessler still is a huge Badger fan. And because he is, the Sessler home on Sentinel Drive now has a satellite dish on its roof.


What’s the connection?


It started when the Big Ten Conference formed its own network—aptly named the Big Ten Network—to televise conference sports events.


The two main satellite networks—DirectTV and Dish Network—picked up the network and put it on their lowest (cheapest) tier of programming.


But so far, the main cable companies have balked at paying the conference-owned network a per-subscriber fee to put the new network on its basic cable package. The cable companies, including Charter Cable, want to put the network on a separate tier of channels, much like HBO or The Movie Channel.


The standoff has left cable customers without many Big Ten football games this fall.


For some Badger fans—such as the 82-year-old Sessler—it became unbearable.


“I can’t go to the game. I’m physically unable to go to the football stadium,” said Sessler, who has a nerve condition that makes it difficult for him to move around.


“So I really appreciate being able to watch Big Ten games,” he said. “Watching Wisconsin and the Packers is pretty important to me.”


Sessler couldn’t watch the Badger game against Illinois two weeks ago. Then last week’s game against Indiana also was on the Big Ten Network.


Then the Big Ten put Saturday’s Wisconsin game at No. 1-ranked Ohio State on the BTN.


Things got too much for Sessler when he discovered that the Thursday, Nov. 29, Packer night game at Dallas will be televised by The NFL Network, another satellite-only offering.


“I said that has got to change,” Sessler said.


Sessler went to Star Satellite earlier this week, where long-time store manager Sue Hale told him it might take until next week before an installer could get to his house.


“I asked the lady if I could go over to her house to watch the game,” Sessler said.


Sessler was delighted when an appointment opened Thursday afternoon.


Hale, also known as “Satellite Sue,” said she’s had a steady stream of customers walk into her office on West Court Street since the football season began. She said it’s because of the BTN and The NFL Network, which doesn’t start televising live games until Thanksgiving night.


“We’re swamped right now,” Hale said. “Even last week. Right after that (Indiana) game, we were swamped. It’s been unbelievable. Our business probably has increased by 50 percent.”


Sessler is happy to be among those new signups, and so is at least one of his relatives.


“My brother-in-law is coming over Saturday,” Sessler said.



Print Print