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How Mediacom customers in central and eastern Iowa can watch Iowa women's basketball amid TEGNA dispute


The decision to include ABC among the networks televising the women's NCAA Tournament has created a problem in central and eastern Iowa. Many Hawkeyes fans in those areas will need to get creative this weekend.

With ABC airing Saturday's Sweet 16 game between No. 5 seed Iowa and top-seeded Connecticut, Mediacom customers in the Des Moines area and Quad Cities will be blacked out from the noon affair amid the ongoing TEGNA dispute. Those with ABC affiliates WOI (Des Moines and Ames) and WQAD (Davenport) will be affected, as has been the case since Mediacom's contract with TEGNA expired Dec. 31.

If you're an impacted Iowa fan, there are some options for watching Saturday's game — which features the highly anticipated freshman showdown between UConn's Paige Bueckers and Iowa's Caitlin Clark. Almost every option below can be implemented free of charge. 

ESPN app

Info: If you've already created a Mediacom login online with your cable account info, then simply use it to log into the ESPN app. All sporting events aired on ABC appear on the ESPN app, just as any other game on the ESPN's family of networks do. Plus, the ESPN app is readily available on all streaming devices, phones and computers.  

Links: A link to the NCAA women's basketball page on the ESPN app can be found here. The Iowa-UConn game will become available shortly before tipoff. Once clicking on the event, you'll be directed to a cable login page where your Mediacom login can be used.  

Issues: When contacted, several Mediacom customer service representatives told the Register a Mediacom login will work for ABC sports content on the ESPN app despite the blackout. However, multiple Mediacom users in central Iowa reached out to say they've had different experiences in the past — that ABC-aired games remain inaccessible on the ESPN app. Regardless, this should be method No. 1 as it does not require signing up for anything   

Mediacom's TV Everywhere app

Info: Mediacom's TV Everywhere app allows, in theory, Mediacom customers to watch their cable package on various devices. While not all channels are included with the TV Everywhere option, ABC is. Like the ESPN app, this is another option that's doesn't require an extra signup or inputting credit card info.  

Links: Mediacom's info on TV Everywhere can be found here. Simply download the app and login with your Mediacom info. The Xtream TV app can be downloaded on the Apple Store or Google Play.

Issues: The TV Everywhere app can be unreliable with streaming quality. Also, some restrictions apply if not connected to your home wifi network. 

Streaming services 

Info: If you've been on the fence about cutting cable and shifting to a streaming service, then perhaps this is the best plan. Most of the main options — YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, fuboTV and AT&T TV — offer ABC on their packages. And, if you just want to go this route for Saturday's game only, almost all these services offer a free trial for new customers. Just make sure to cancel before the trial period ends to avoid getting charged. 

YouTube TV: Base price is $64.99/month. There's a 5-day free trial.  

Hulu Live TV: Base price is $64.99/month. There's a 7-day free trial.

fuboTV: Base price is $64.99/month. There's a 7-day free trial on starter and pro packages.   

AT&T TV: Base package is $69.99/month. There is not a free trial

Also worth noting that if — for some unlikely reason — there are issues with ABC on these services, you can use the login created on the ESPN app by following the same steps above. 

Buying an antenna

Info: HDTV antennas of different strengths can be purchased at most retail or electronic stores, with most ranging from $30 to $70. These antennas screw into a TV's cable jack and provide local HD channels over the air. This would not only fix the ABC blackout issue for Saturday's game, but for all future ABC programming, without committing to any new streaming plan.  

Issues: Antennas can sometimes be unreliable in providing an uninterrupted picture, especially if you live in a rural or wooded area. And going out to buy an antenna obviously takes more effort than signing up for a streaming service online.     

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.