Fort Fairfield and Washburn face off during the Eastern Maine Class D boys basketball final last February at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The regional tourney semifinals and finals will be live streamed by the Northeast Sports Network this February. (Ashley L. Conti/BDN)
It may be more inconvenient and require some young generation tutelage to the old generation, but the rights awarded by the Maine Principals’ Association to a Vermont company to live stream the state’s 2016 high school basketball tournament is a good outcome for basketball fans.
The decision announced Tuesday by the MPA means that 60 semifinal and regional championship games will be live streamed by the Northeast Sports Network. It fills a void left when the Maine Public Broadcasting Network announced in November it would no longer be able to televise the games due to of a lack of resources to provide coverage because of the addition of a fifth class to high school basketball this season.
It was always unlikely that one of the state’s local TV stations would pick up the tourney games and who could blame them? It’s an expensive proposition and they would have to pre-empt popular programming on CBS, NBC, ABC or FOX to do so.
It may be difficult for some of us basketball-crazed types to admit it, but more viewers will be upset if they don’t get their weekly dose of NCIS or Modern Family compared to those missing a high school tourney game.
Live streaming will help fill that void and for basketball fans who are a bit tech savvy, watching games on their computers is something many have already done. For those who haven’t, it’s not difficult to log on to a website and click onto a link that will put a game from the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor onto your computer screen.
Some may be concerned that the live streaming of tourney games limit the number of viewers accessing the games because they don’t have the resources to do so. According to a U.S. Census Bureau 2013 report, however, 89.1 percent of Maine’s population lives in a household with a computer and 79.2 percent live in a home with high speed internet.
Some of the state’s most loyal tourney fans are senior citizens and my concern is fewer of them may watch tourney games because they are live streamed. They may be bothered, like some of us, with the inconvenience of using a computer to watch games rather turning on their TVs, but Pew Research Center statistics show a significant growth of seniors using the internet. In 2000, 14 percent of those 65 or older used the internet, but it jumped to 58 percent in 2014, the greatest rate of change of all age groups.
Whether this translates into more senior citizens logging onto their computers to watch a tourney game is debatable, but it does show more of those folks are adapting to advances in technology.
Those advances will also let those who don’t want to be limited to just a watching a game on a computer screen to be able to watch the game on their large-screen TVs. Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV are some of the ways video can be streamed to a TV or a cable connected from a laptop to a TV will enable the TV to be used as a monitor from the computer.
We can all turn back to just our TVs when the state basketball finals roll around as MPBN will be televising those 10 games. Until then and for the other tourney rounds, if you’re in the over-50 crowd like me, then stay on your children’s good side.