Technical difficulties happen, but they often see a network losing a few minutes at most of a game. Even something like eight minutes (in the first half of a Miami-Virginia Tech basketball game on ESPN2 last March) is unusual. But for ESPNU’s Ivy League basketball coverage Friday, the situation was much worse. As Erik Hall reported in The Ithaca Journal, the network lost its signal less than halfway through the second half, and never regained it:
ESPNU put a graphic on the lower corner of the screen after several minutes that said, “Pennsylvania at Cornell: Currently experiencing Technical Difficulties.”
The teams went to a timeout with 12:15 left in the second half, and at that time, the ESPNU signal cut out. Cornell led 49-41 at the time ESPNU lost its signal.
After twice replaying its halftime studio show, ESPNU went to the Harvard and Yale men’s basketball game that was supposed to follow Penn and Cornell. Before the Harvard and Yale game started, they did a live interview with Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge.
ESPNU never returned to the game.
They also had some issues with the scorebug before that:
@ESPNU What happened with this score? pic.twitter.com/TTLa8XP5Pr
— Melissa Smitherman (@melissmitherman) February 1, 2019
This sparked some annoyance on Twitter, including a report that ESPN didn’t want to switch back from Harvard-Yale:
Me, earlier today: Ivy is a top 10 league and may finally be getting some national respect!
ESPN, later that day: We lost the feed of the nationally televised Penn-Cornell game and don’t wanna get it back on for a close ending. We’ll do pregame and commercials instead! https://t.co/dFntakVZvd
— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) February 2, 2019
@ESPNU how can you not fix the issue with the cornell game? This is ridiculous.
— Joker333AG (@Deltasigjoker) February 1, 2019
@espn Really dropped the ball on this Penn Cornell game. #AmateurHour
— RockChalkBaby (@JayHawkSwagga) February 1, 2019
For those watching ESPNU: Cornell leads Penn, 65-64, with 5:39 left in the game. Using NCAA website to update since game telecast is experiencing technical difficulties.
— Scott Hable? (@sctthbl) February 1, 2019
In the end, there were six lead changes in the final 6:01, but Cornell won 80-71 in the end. Those watching on ESPNU didn’t see that, though. And while there have been some cases where a feed is lost and never returned to in the past, they’re few and far between, so this was pretty unusual.