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Big bowls roll to cable

ESPN gets cranky when people like me distinguish between events on broadcast and cable TV.

That includes the first-ever all-ESPN BCS slate that begins Saturday and continues through the Jan. 10 finale, which will be the biggest U.S. sports championship ever determined on cable television.

Oops, there I go again.

John Wildhack, executive VP of programming and acquisitions, told me Friday that while carrying the big bowls “is a great signature moment for our company,’’ he added, “In terms of the so-called movement from broadcast to cable, that [distinction] is archaic.’’

Fair enough, mostly. ESPN is in just shy of 100 million homes compared to about 115 million for its broadcast sibling, ABC.

In the New York area, only about 4 percent of homes don’t get the channel – well below the national figure – and the percentage is even smaller among avid sports fans.

Truth is, it was a little strange when Fox had the BCS, what with ESPN’s year-round commitment to the sport. So the change of scenery this season makes sense from a viewer standpoint.

“We’re there literally from August when the kids report through the end of the year,’’ Wildhack said. “It was a natural.’’

Wildhack said in TV terms the long wait until the Jan. 10 Championship Game is a positive, providing “a little bit of separation’’ from other games to allow the anticipation to build.

But first there are the Rose and Fiesta on Saturday, a day Wildhack said might be the most highly rated cumulatively in the 31-year history of the network.

New York Sports