King’s Court

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that St. John’s was trying to push fans away.

Last Wednesday, St. John’s men’s basketball started its 2007-08 season with a home exhibition game against Molloy at 7:30 p.m., a contest highly anticipated by fans of the program as its seven freshmen would make their first appearance in St. John’s uniforms.

CSTV, which operates, was set to broadcast the game following the conclusion of men’s soccer, which began its first-round Big East Tournament game against Seton Hall at 5:30 p.m., a game CSTV also broadcast.

Instead of being able to watch both games, though, I was only able to watch soccer. Perhaps the web site was unable to broadcast two separate events simultaneously despite having different parts of its web page dedicated to different sports, I thought to myself.

As the soccer game carried into extra time, the start time for basketball came and went, and play-by-play announcer Ralph Bednarczyk repeatedly stated that they would be broadcasting men’s basketball as soon as the soccer game concluded.

When the soccer came was over, Bednarczyk quickly announced that men’s basketball would be on the air in about 15 minutes, and then the screen went black.

Men’s basketball went live about 20 minutes after the soccer game ended. The only problem was that there were about 25 seconds left in the first half with St. John’s leading by about 30 points. CSTV did not even have its gametracker, a utility that
tracks the game’s stats throughout the contest, available for the game.

But how can I complain about a free service that broadcasts my favorite college basketball team when its games are not televised or I am unable to attend the game in person? Well I can’t, really.

Here’s the kicker: it’s actually NOT a free service. Wednesday’s broadcast of men’s basketball was a free “trial”, but fans must pay to see the other four games scheduled to broadcast this season by CSTV.

According to, “The basketball exhibition contest will be available for viewing free of charge on Wednesday, but fans should expect to pay a subscription fee for access to the Sacred Heart (Nov. 20), Fairleigh Dickinson (Nov. 25), LIU (Nov. 28) and Niagara (Dec. 15) games.”

Upon further investigation, I discovered that a monthly subscription costs about $15 per month, while a yearly subscription will run about $120 per month. The reason for the 15 minute off-air period between the men’s soccer and men’s basketball games was due to the fact that Bednarczyk and the recording crew actually had to physically move their equipment from Belson Stadium to Carnesecca Arena.

Does CSTV really think it can charge customers $15 to watch four games where video quality is shoddy, there is no score displayed on the screen, and, as far as I’ve seen, parts of games may be missed because the video equipment must be transferred from one place to another? And then there’s the gametracker, which had consistency problems last season that seem to be recurring.

In more ways than one, I’m not buying it.