Unless something unexpected happens, millions of Texas residents won’t be able to watch the University of Texas season opener on Saturday night. The game will air only on the Longhorn Network (LHN), the ESPN-owned cable channel with scant availability in the Lone Star State.
The LHN saga, where distributors have balked at carrying the network, has been well-covered. One argument is the channel doesn’t offer enough live games. But the Texas opener against Wyoming and the Longhorns’ game a week later versus New Mexico will be on LHN only. So, many fans won’t get a live look at their beloved team until Sept. 15.
With so many people with idle time over the next two weekends, the Texas economy will be impacted. Ok, it’s not quite the oil bust, but this is a Saturday tradition gone unexpectedly awry. There will be winners and losers.
Movie chains have got to be psyched. During a televised UT game, theaters may be near-empty. Without one, attendance could jump. And there’s that anti-Obama documentary that should be a draw in red Texas.
Similarly, retailers have got to be ecstatic. Temperatures will be steamy and the forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms in Houston, so there should be plenty of retail therapy to deal with no game to watch.
Domino’s and pizza delivery places have got to be devastated. No Longhorn viewing parties has to mean fewer orders. They’ll be pointing to the Mississippi game Sept. 15.
Beer companies should be fine. Yes, they will suffer like Domino’s with fewer viewing parties, but a bunch of Texans unable to watch their favorite team? Hmm…
BBQ joints? Should do great. But they’d do well anyway. Not everyone in Texas pulls for the Longhorns, but they do for good BBQ. With so many homes in Austin unable to get LHN, the Salt Lick not far from town should be overrun.
Cardiologists? This is bad for business. More people than usual – maybe millions – could actually get off their couches on a fall Saturday. Of course, if those are gouging on BBQ, that could be a push for the physicians.
Advertisers might save a few bucks. Running spots in widely carried UT games in the state has got to be pricey. So, there could be a less expensive way to reach people who do stay home and watch something else.
The Houston Astros might have some extra fans Saturday. That’s badly needed, considering the team is horrible and ranks 27th out of 30 in average attendance. The Texas Rangers aren’t home, but don’t need help filling the stands.
Bars that are carrying the game, of course, should do a brisk business.
Call center employees at AT&T and Time Warner Cable have got to love that their companies don’t carry LHN. Angry fans should flood the switchboards, perhaps giving them plenty of overtime pay -- if they can handle it and don't quit first.