Wolfpack and Blue Devil fans who buy Internet access from Time Warner Cable may not be able to watch their football teams' home openers live online tomorrow.
N.C. State's game against Western Carolina and Duke University's game against Elon are scheduled to be shown only on ESPN3.com. The games won't be aired on TV. To see live action at home, it's Internet streaming or nothing.
Under a new contract reached late Thursday between Time Warner Cable and Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN, the ESPN3 website will soon be available to Time Warner Cable customers in this region for the first time.
But because the companies' dispute wasn't resolved until Thursday, Time Warner Cable engineers and programmers may not have enough time to get the system set up by Saturday night, said spokesman Keith Poston.
"We obviously would love to have it available for our subscribers and we're working as fast as we can to make it happen," he said. "I'm sure fans will be disappointed, but it's not something they've had before. This site wasn't available last season."
Time Warner Cable has about 2.1 million customers in the Carolinas, including 830,000 from Raleigh to the coast.
Local customers of other Internet service providers, including AT&T and Verizon, are already able to get access to ESPN3.com.
The website is available for free to visitors who receive their high-speed connection from an affiliated Internet service provider. When someone visits the site, its servers check the connection to make sure the person has permission to watch live games. If not, access is blocked.
The contract dispute between Time Warner Cable and Disney was mostly over money, especially how much the cable provider would pay per subscriber to show channels such as ESPN and the Disney Channel. The new contract also covers new channels and content, including ESPN3.com.
On Friday morning, N.C. State sent out a reminder that the 6 p.m. game on Saturday will be shown on ESPN3.com. Duke's game vs. Elon starts at 7 p.m.
"Hopefully, most of our local fans will be at the game," said Annabelle Myers, N.C. State's assistant athletics director for media relations. "We've been assured by ESPN people that it will be available on Time Warner Cable and we hope that will be the case."
It may be little solace for fans who wanted to see live video on their computers, but there's always old-school technology. Both games will air on local radio stations.