Can Mediacom customers watch Iowa vs. Iowa State football? Here's what the TEGNA contract stalemate means.
Cable subscribers in central and eastern Iowa will likely have an obstacle to negotiate next weekend to find the state’s highest-profile annual sporting event.
A monthslong impasse between Mediacom cable and TEGNA, owner of ABC affiliates WOI in Des Moines and WQAD in Moline, Illinois, will likely leave subscribers without access to the highly anticipated No. 18 Iowa vs. No. 8 Iowa State football game set to be aired by ABC at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 11.
“We’re still trying to get a better price for our customers,” Mediacom spokesperson Phyllis Peters said, “but given that it’s been many months and this game is coming up in just (a few) days, that’s not necessarily looking like it’s going to be the option for our customers.”
The two sides have not been able to come to an agreement on the fees Mediacom will pay to air WOI and WQAD. That’s left the two channels blacked out to Mediacom subscribers in those areas, and finger-pointing between the two parties ahead of next weekend’s showdown between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones.
“We are disappointed that Mediacom continues to blackout WQAD from their line-up,” Anne Bentley, a spokesperson for TEGNA, wrote in an email to the Register. “Mediacom has not responded to our proposal to reach a fair, market-based agreement in more than eight months.
“We know that this is frustrating for our viewers and college football fans. We have a track record of successfully negotiating multi-year deals with hundreds of cable and satellite providers across the country without disruptions to service. We stand ready to work with Mediacom and get a deal done based on the rates we’ve used to reach deals with numerous other providers of all sizes."
If no deal can be reached ahead of next weekend, it will leave those customers searching for alternative ways to watch what is expected to be the first matchup in Cy-Hawk history in which both teams are ranked.
Mediacom customers will have options to find the game, however, though it will require subscribers to utilize their Internet connections rather than just their TV remote.
The cable company is directing fans to utilize ESPN3 via their Internet connections to watch the 3:30 p.m. game. Subscribers have free access to the streaming platform at ESPN.com/watch as part of their cable package with their Mediacom login information.
“A lot of people aren’t thinking about ESPN3 because ESPN+ in the streaming world has kind of eclipsed all that,” Peters said, “but ESPN3 is a service that’s available to the customers that distributes the ESPN video products.
“It’s online, but it is no additional charge. It is not a subscription service. It’s automatically a piece of the subscription service that our customers, both Internet or video or those that have both, they receive ESPN3.
“A lot of people have their TVs and their Internet linked together already so that’s something that people have become much more familiar with.”
Those looking for the Cy-Hawk game also have the option of using an antennae to watch the game over-the-air. There are also satellite options for customers looking to switch, or those thinking of cutting the cord can utilize free trials of services like YouTubeTV or Hulu + Live TV to watch the game.
Mediacom declined to provide the number of subscribers effected by the blackouts in central Iowa and the Quad Cities and Burlington area, citing the ongoing negotiations with TEGNA.
“We’re focused on what our customers do have access to,” Peters wrote in an email, “and this includes ESPN3 and the ability to see the ESPN-produced game via the online portal available to customers who are already paying for a broadband connection through Mediacom, or a video subscription that includes the ESPN channels (Variety or family cable).”
The Cyclones open the season Saturday at home against Northern Iowa on the ESPN+ streaming platform. The Hawkeyes host No. 17 Indiana at 2:30 in a game broadcast by BTN.
Travis Hines covers Iowa State University sports for the Des Moines Register and Ames Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 284-8000. Follow him at @TravisHines21.