Both ESPN and Comcast are at fault, but from everything I have read so far it appears that ESPN is the main culprit. About 9 months ago I read a post on another from an ESPN employee trying to blame Comcast. His claim, all Comcast had to do was buy ESPNU at some normally high per subscriber rate and place ESPNU in the analog tier and they would give ESPN2-HD to Comcast for free. Otherwise Comcast could pay full rate for ESPN2-HD which was apparently pretty expensive according to the employee. There was also an article posted recently, I believe on this forum, talking about how the ABC/Disney/ESPN packages are the most expensive and tightly locked in the industry.
While discussing this very issue with a friend of mine, the suggestion was made that maybe Comcast should just buy the channel. However while speculating on the price and the number of Comcast subscribers, he came up with the number of like $3.50 per subscriber. He figured that the people who do not have the ability to watch the HD channel would scream about a rate increase so refigured the amount for only subscribers with Digital STB and the rate increase was something near $30.00 just to get ESPN2-HD added. I don't know about you, but I can live with out it for $30.00 per month even though I would watch several events including the entire NHRA session and shows.
By no means am I any fan of Comcast. Matter of fact, I'm looking forward to the possibility of a AT&T FIOS in the next year or so for the Atlanta suburbs. However, having read the above items and knowing how a free market society works, I am taking a different approach if Comcast and Disney can not get to a reasonable contract rate. I think Comcast should drop all Disney and ESPN channels and offer it to its customers as a add on package at the price Disney and ESPN would require for add on. Then we will see the true value of these channels. Of coarse a lot of people would leave Comcast for Satellite, but I don't think it would be as devastating as number of Advertisers that drop Disney and ESPN with the lose of millions of Comcast subscribers.