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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cable customers going to great lengths to get sports

The dispute over carrying rights seems to have been resolved in the Dish Network-Fox situation, according to releases from the Fox. The news comes just two days prior to the blackout of Fox 2 in the local area, which was to take effect Nov. 1.
"After prolonged negotiations to reach a fair deal, we're pleased to enter into a long-term agreement with Fox and to assure our customers that they can continue to enjoy these channels," said Dave Shull, senior VP of programming for Dish Network.
More important than that, area DishNet subscribers can catch up on their Pistons and Red Wings seasons, which are only a couple weeks old. Glad for the fans it could be resolved. That's certainly something that could get me to switch providers. I change service whenever a better intro rate comes along, so you know I'd be gone if I couldn't get Pistons or Red Wings coverage. My current cable does lack Versus, though, but I'm thinking most Wings playoff games are good ol' CBC if they're on Versus anyway. I have to imagine the Wings are on Ch. 9 a couple times this season.
The DishNet resolution is good news for people in the metro Detroit area, but it can't bring the Lions to TV, as NFL blackout rules prevent Sunday's matchup against the Redskins from being shown in the region. It could be worse.
Baseball fans in the New York area are still trapped by provider Cablevision's now two-week old stalemate with Fox over retransmission fees. Michigan viewers were only slated to miss Games 5-7, arguably the most important games of the season, if they had lost Fox 2. Fans in NYC have missed every game, going to great lengths to find them.
Cablevision tried so hard to curry subscribers' favor as to purchase subscriptions, so affected viewers could stream the World Series online. The common reaction is "TV isn't the same on my computer," but beggars can't be choosers. That sounds like a damn good deal to me. But the customer interaction wasn't all on the up and up.
Recorded conversations reportedly caught Cablevision employees instructing customers to install over-the-air antennas to catch the Fox broadcast — or just search for a pirate site illegally streaming the games on the Internet, which has apparently become common practice. I'm sure plenty of Lions fans will try what they can Sunday.
But what about the displaced baseball Giants fans left in NYC? Sure, many still have their antennas from back in the day, but their older sets won't work without digital converters. And, as you may have heard, seniors aren't always in step with the latest in technology, meaning the illegal streams probably aren't their avenue for watching the World Series.
Hopefully this Cablevision deal gets resolved sometime before the NFL playoffs, there surely would be hell to pay if those games, or especially the Super Bowl weren't seen in New York. And another thing, isn't this going to affect November sweeps?

Update: Fox, Cablevision reach agreement on deal, avoid further World Series, NFL blackouts.


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